WATCH ABOVE: As the police chief heads into his final shift, critics and supporters weigh the effectiveness of Bill Blair’s term. Mark Carcasole reports.
TORONTO — Bill Blair ends a 10-year reign Saturday as chief of the Toronto Police Service.
It’s a tough job, and Blair’s had some harsh critics over the years.
Despite butting heads with him over the years, Mike McCormick, president of the Toronto Police Association, looks back at Blair’s time as a positive one.
“He’s made Toronto a better city,” said McCormick. “There’s been a reduction in crime.”
Blair’s handled the G-20 riots, the Danzig shootings, and weathered budget cuts that put in place a hiring freeze.
“He was one of the leaders and on the cutting edge of community-based policing, said McCormick. “I think his legacy was to entrench that and to enshrine it.”
Anthony Morgan, a policy and research Lawyer with the African Canadian Legal Clinic said more could have been done by Blair when it comes to carding.
“Community members actually don’t say ‘well at least I was spoken to aggressively or rudely by a black officer.’ That’s now how they interact,” said Morgan. “They’d just rather be spoken to politely.”
He said racial profiling remains an ongoing issue in Toronto.
“It seems that he has become entrenched on allowing officers to violate systemically the rights of Torontonians,” said Morgan. “Specifically African Canadians.”
At police headquarters Friday, people gathered to salute Blair.
“I’m very happy with Chief Blair, and I feel very humble and wish that he had been a little bit longer in the seat,” said Dee Gordon, CEO of Walk To Ottawa.
Also announced Friday, Blair is joining the Scarborough Hospital Foundation’s board of directors.
“I’m from Scarborough, my kids are, I raised them there and Scarborough Hospital’s always been there for my family'” said Blair. “They came and I asked if I want to help and yeah, I want to help.”
Chief Designate Mark Saunders officially takes over on Sunday.
With files from Mark Carcasole