Chief Mark Saunders had his first meeting with the National Ethnic Press & Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) as the city's top cop this week.
With the undivided attention of more than 60 NEPMCC members, Chief Saunders took the opportunity to not only thank the hardworking media present but answer their questions and discuss issues of mutual concern on August 10.
No topic was off the table as questions covered areas of mental health, carding, decriminalization of marijuana, terrorism and police discipline to name a few.
When asked specifically how the Service is training police officers to deal with young people, the Chief indicated the successes we have as law enforcement are based on the investment we make in training, citing the addition of a full third day into annual training to deal especially with community engagements.
The Chief also mentioned the work of the Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER) Advisory Committee, which has been dedicated to working with the Service for more than a year on the recommendations listed in the PACER Report.
“We want to improve and we have been listening to the community,” said Saunders, adding that the PAC has developed a sub-committee to work on the training curriculum.
Many of the members in attendance wanted to know what the Service is doing in the area of counter-terrorism and addressing radicalization of young people. The Chief emphasized the TPS is working closely with its law enforcement partners on the issue and how communication amongst all parties was the key to addressing the issue effectively.
Taking the opportunity to speak about recent gun violence in the city, the Chief asked the members to help the Service get the word out to all communities that police need everyone’s cooperation to help solve crime.
In acknowledging that some may be fearful of coming forward, he said “you have to be brave to do it, but we need to be brave to have a safe city.”
The National Ethnic Press & Media Council of Canada, led by President Tom Saras, represents more than 750 publications in 110 languages across Canada.
Although the membership maintains regular communication with members across the Service, it was the first time the Council had met with Chief Saunders.