Watch above: Bill Blair won’t get his wish for another five years on the job. Sean Mallen reports.
TORONTO – The Toronto Police Services Board won’t renew Chief Bill Blair’s contract.
He will be out as chief in April, 2015.
The board issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that “after considerable discussion” board members have “decided not to renew” Blair’s contract.
The statement lauded Blair’s “long and distinguished policing career” and called him a “champion of community policing.”
“He has demonstrated his commitment to issues of human rights, diversity and integrity, among many others, and has served Toronto admirably and tirelessly,” the statement read.
The chief declined interviews Wednesday, saying through police spokesperson Mark Pugash he wants to “thank the board for their consideration.”
During his decade as police Chief Blair oversaw the development of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), designed to target some of the city’s poorest and most violent neighbourhoods.
Blair succeeded Julian Fantino as chief of police and served two five-year terms. Blair had until July 25 to ask the board for an extension – which he did, according to board Chair Alok Mukherjee.
That 10-year tenure’s still relatively long for a Toronto police chief: Since 1980, everyone else served an average of five years.
Mukherjee wouldn’t say however how individual board members voted but said the board is “very proud” of Blair’s time as chief.
But his tenure hasn’t been without controversy.
Blair withstood calls for his resignation after G20 protests culminated with riots and the arrests of over 1,100 people in 2010, and was criticized both for his handling of the event itself and standing by police actions – including a “kettling” tactic that trapped hundreds of bystanders for hours in the rain – later found to be out of line.
Mukherjee said the G20 “was not a factor” in choosing to forego a contract extension.
Last year, Blair called for a review of the way police deal with people in crisis following the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim. He has already pledged to implement the many recommendations that came out of that report, presented last week.
Blair also presided over a still-ongoing police investigation of Mayor Rob Ford.
Last November, he made headlines when he confirmed reports in the Toronto Star and Gawker that a video did indeed exist showing the mayor smoking what looked like crack cocaine.
The police investigation of the mayor and Blair’s statement he was “disappointed” by what he saw in the video led to calls from Doug Ford for Blair to resign. Ford called him the “most political police chief we’ve ever had.”
Doug Ford also said the police investigation of his brother boded ill for Blair’s chances of having his contract renewed.
But despite the vitriol both Ford brothers levelled at Chief Blair for months over Project Brazen, the police investigation into the mayor, they took a more conciliatory tone Wednesday.
Doug Ford thanked Blair “for his service.”
““I just wish the chief all the best and he’s worked hard for the city and I’m sure he is going to enjoy retirement,” Doug Ford said.
“He served the chief well for nearly ten years.”
WATCH: Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee addresses the decision to not renew Bill Blair’s contract
Rob Ford thanked the police chief for his service during a short speech Wednesday afternoon.
“I want to thank chief Bill Blair for his service to the people of this great city for the last ten years,” Ford said. “This is a decision that was made strictly by the police services board.”
The mayor refused to answer questions.
Mukherjee said neither the chief’s relationship with the mayor played “absolutely” no role in choosing not to extend Blair’s contract.
With a report from Patrick Cain