New London police chief named, first with a racially diverse background

Thai Truong was introduced at London police headquarters as the next chief of police for the city on May 1, 2023. Marshall Healey/980 CFPL

For the first time in the city’s history, the next police chief will come from a racially diverse background.

Thai Truong was introduced Monday morning at London police headquarters as the next chief of police for the city. He is set to assume the position officially on June 1.

Speaking at his introduction, Truong says a key goal while in the position is to make London a safer city.

“The vision that I have right now encompasses community safety,” said Truong. “That is what we signed up for when we become police officers.”

Truong, whose selection as police chief was finalized on Friday, said that during the interview process, he took the opportunity to walk the streets of London a few times to get a feel for the city.

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“I did learn a lot and I got to feel what some citizens and what community members say about not feeling safe,” said Truong. “I felt it.

“The issues that we face here in London are not unique only to London, but they’re complex.”

The selection of Truong comes after a months-long process by the police board in the search for former chief Steve Williams’ replacement.

Williams announced his retirement in October 2022, with his final day on active duty in February. In his place, Deputy Chief Trish McIntyre has been serving as acting chief since Feb. 25 and will continue in the role for the rest of the month until Truong officially assumes the role.

This will be the first time since 1998 the London Police Service will fill the top cop position with someone outside the force.

Truong comes to London with 22 years of policing experience, all with the York Regional Police. He has most recently served as a commander, leading all police operations in the city of Richmond Hill.

He has previously worked in other branches, including support, investigative and administrative. He has experience as an undercover officer and working on various units dedicated to organized crime, drug enforcement, homicide and special victims.

Truong has worked with the office of the Ontario premier and the United States Department of Justice in policy design and implementing strategies to combat human trafficking.

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Chair of the police board Ali Chahbar said on Monday that Truong is the only police officer in Canada to be recognized and qualified by both the Ontario court of justice and the Superior Court of Justice as an expert in the areas of drug trafficking, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Chahbar also took time to recognize the significance of Truong becoming the first racially diverse police chief in the history of London.

“We can’t claim to have community policing until the composition of the police service itself reflects the community it protects and serves,” said Chahbar.

“While there is still a great amount of work to be done … I take a measure of pride in the knowledge that a new portrait unlike any of the others that have hung on (the police headquarters) wall before will soon hang proudly.”

For his part, Truong says a key aspect of his leadership will be fostering an environment that emphasizes the wellness of officers and the feelings of everyone to ensure the police force is an inclusive place.

“Wellness is about mind, body, soul, spirit,” said Truong. “The vision is to make sure it is an inclusive organization, and people come into work feeling like they belong.”

London Mayor Josh Morgan said he was happy to have Truong assume the role in a couple of weeks, adding he brings lots of experience to help fight issues the city continues to face.

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“We have increased crime, increased crime severity … and the chief designate brings experience in all those areas,” Morgan tells Global News.

“With the chief designate’s résumé coming and adding to the already exceptional talent we have here at the London Police Service, I think we have a very powerful formula to start to tackle issues in a significant way.”

An official change of command ceremony will be held at a later date.

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