WATCH ABOVE: Highlights from Toronto Police Chief-Designate Mark Saunders news conference
TORONTO – Mark Saunders has been named the next chief of the Toronto Police Service, the first black chief in the department’s history.
Toronto Mayor John Tory made the announcement during a press conference Monday morning.
He’s Toronto’s first black police chief
Saunders was born in England to Jamaican parents, before moving to Canada as a child. He is the city’s first black police chief and will take over the police force while it struggles with a carding policy that mainly affected young black men in the city’s priority neighbourhoods.
He’s already 32 years into his career
Saunders has experience. He’s been a police officer in Toronto for 32 years and, prior to his appointment as chief, oversaw the Specialized Operations Command – one of the more highly publicized sections of the police force which includes the guns and gangs task force, homicide unit, and sex crimes unit.
He was also responsible for nearly 1,200 officers and 164 civilian members as well as a budget of $175 million.
Saunders has also worked as a homicide investigator and an undercover drug cop and was overseeing the security of the 2015 Pan Am Para Pan Games.
He’ll have to deal with carding
Toronto’s police force is grappling with some problems while still trying to shake off the legacy of the G20.
There’s also the issue of carding. The Toronto Police Service recently unveiled a new community engagement policy, which governs what officers must do when stopping people in Toronto. The practice has, in the past, disproportionately affected young black men.
He’ll have to deal with rising costs
There’s also the swelling budget of the Toronto Police Service, which is already the largest line item in the city’s budget. And it’s only expected to grow with a new collective agreement which, reports suggest, will cost Torontonians an extra $65 million over its four-year life.
The base salary of a police officer will grow to roughly $98,000 at a time when half of the police force is already included on the province’s Sunshine List despite growing calls to rein in costs.
His closest competitors
Saunders was up against two others in the bid to become Toronto’s next chief of police, including Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, who would have also been Toronto’s first black police chief, and Prince Albert, Saskatoon chief Dale McFee.
Sloly was seen, according to reports, as a more reformist figure who wrote many of the carding recommendations rejected by the Toronto Police Services Board.