By TOM GODFREY
A search for a new Toronto Police Service Chief is fanning out across the city to allow residents of high-risk and other communities to have a say in the crucial selection process.
Residents from four areas of Toronto will later this month be able to tell recruiters the type of qualities they desire in the next Chief, who is expected to be chosen by January.
A public survey is also being conducted online.
Dr. Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, said he is soliciting input from the Toronto Police Association, business sector, elected officials and various community advisory groups.
“The Board wants to hear from all of the city’s diverse communities,” said Dr. Mukherjee in a release last week. “Selecting a new Chief is a serious matter and one that will impact the lives of our membership and our community in a very direct way.”
Mukherjee said the consultations will focus on the qualities required by a new Chief to handle the challenges of leading Canada’s largest municipal police service.
“We want to make sure we select the right leader who will work with the Board, the City and the community to ensure that Toronto Police continues to enjoy higher levels of public trust and support,” he said in the statement.
The Board has contracted Diversity Trainers Plus Inc. to identify the competencies that the community considers essential in a new Chief. Lead consultant Maureen Brown will conduct the consultations and a report will be submitted by November 13.
The Board said last July that they would not renew the contract of outgoing Chief, Bill Blair, when it expires in April.
The consultations will take place on Tuesday, October 28 at the Scarborough Civic Centre; Wednesday, October 29 at Metro Hall; Etobicoke Civic Centre on Thursday, Oct. 30 and North York Civic Centre on Monday, November 3. The meetings run from 7 p.m .to 9 p.m.
An online survey can be accessed from Thursday, October 16 to Friday, October 31 on the Board’s website at www.tpsb.ca.
The Board has also launched an international search for a Chief.
There are two highly-qualified Black candidates in the running for the job. Deputy Chiefs Peter Sloly and Mark Saunders are well-respected in the community and have many years of experience among them.
Sloly, who is originally from Jamaica, has been on the force for 25 years, and has overseen the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), as well as other community safety initiatives. He was on the forefront for police on the carding issue.
Saunders, who is also from Jamaica and has been on the force for 30-years, has worked on the Gun and Gang Unit and headed the Homicide Squad. He has served in tough police roles and has the respect of colleagues.
Blair, who has been Chief for almost 10 years, has been criticized by some Toronto residents for his handling of the G20 Summit in 2010 and for taking too long to act following complaints by members of the community that they are being racially profiled and carded by police in street checks.
A police street checks policy has since been put in place by the Board to curb and hold officers accountable in situations involving the racial profiling and carding of Blacks.
The Toronto Police Service is the largest municipal force in Canada and one of the largest in North America, with about 5,400 officers and an operating budget of about $1.08 billion annually.