By RON FANFAIR
The founding president of the Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE), David Mitchell, is set to become the fourth African-Canadian superintendent of an Ontario Correctional Centre.
Mitchell will take up his appointment on May 4 at Mimico, which is a medium security facility in Etobicoke for male adult inmates serving a maximum of two years. Mitchell joined the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services 19 years ago and is currently the manager of the Security Threat Group Criminal Intelligence Unit.
“Being the only Black superintendent in an Ontario jail, and to be among a handful of people looking like me who have been in this role before, means a lot and the appointment should offer hope to young racialized officers in the corrections community that they can achieve anything through hard work,” said Mitchell.
“It should also demonstrate this ministry’s commitment to diversity and out-of-the-box thinking as a new way of doing business. I am up for the new challenge because I have worked in four different jails in the province and I have also been engaged at every level of uniformed management. I also bring to the table an extensive local and international criminal law enforcement network.”
Born in England, Mitchell came to Canada with his family in 1969 at the age of three. He worked with the former City of North York Parks & Recreation Community Services Division as a program co-ordinator and assistant community centre co-ordinator and served as the first North York Secondary School Principals’ Advisory Council Youth Sub-Committee chair before pursuing a law enforcement career in 1990.
After completing his training, he spent 18 months as a general duty officer at the Toronto jail before being dispatched to the Admitting and Discharge Unit. He was promoted to acting sergeant in 1994 and a few months later he was assigned to the Anti-Racism Unit where he was responsible for assisting in the implementation of recommendations made in the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System report.
He also held the ranks of captain and acting deputy superintendent at the Toronto Jail and deputy superintendent in charge of operations at the Toronto East Detention Centre.
As one of ABLE’s seven co-founders, Mitchell has consistently advocated for positive changes and initiatives in law enforcement that will benefit a multi-cultural and multi-racial society.
The former Lawrence Heights resident, who developed a keen interest in youth and community issues while working with the North York Parks & Recreation department, is a member of the City of Toronto Community Safety Panel, the York University President’s Task Force on Community Engagement and the chair of the Toronto Housing Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Five years ago, he was honoured with an Ombudsman Ontario Public Service Recognition award for demonstrating leadership in informal problem solving and early resolution of complaints, initiating innovative approaches to promote alternative dispute resolution, encouraging the application of systemic and system-wide problem solving and providing exceptional responsiveness and co-operative service during the complaint resolution process.
Mitchell joins a list of minorities appointed to significant management positions since Jay Hope assumed the role as Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Correctional Services last July.
Former Harambee Centres Canada executive director, Dr. Ralph Agard, was appointed acting assistant deputy minister of the Workplace Effective Branch; Ernie Harris was named the Ontario Correctional Service College’s anti-racism co-ordinator; Bose Sukhdeo Singh was elevated to the post of regional director of Adult Community Corrections (Central Region) and ABLE executive member and former assistant parole and probation manager in Brampton, Jennifer Alphonso, became the deputy superintendent at Mimico, making her the first Black woman to hold this rank in Ontario.
Prior to Mitchell’s appointment, the other Black superintendents were Edward Francis and Orville Kerlew, who are both deceased, and Fred Williams who recently retired after serving in the senior position at the Toronto and Mimico jails.