Chief Mark Saunders said this year’s Police Week theme provides an opportunity for police services across the province to showcase positive partnerships with community members, agencies and businesses.
The theme is “Working Together for Safer Communities.”
“This specific theme is keeping in mind the Service’s goal of being where the public needs us most, of embracing partnerships to create stronger communities and focusing on the complex needs of a large urban city,” said Saunders.
He said Toronto Police has achieved these goals by transforming how they relate to the public and deliver services.
“Our Service is dedicated in being represented by Toronto’s finest,” he said. “…We are a world leader in policing and we are committed to excellence, innovation and quality leadership. I am proud of the Service’s personnel and all the work that they do to keep the City of Toronto safe.”
The front courtyard of police headquarters was opened to the community for a bbq and officers from areas such as Forensic Identification Services, Mounted and the Motor Squad spoke to the community about their work and displayed some of their tools of the trade.
Toronto Police Services Board member Chin Lee said Police Week is an important tradition for both officers and community members in the province.
“Our board very much believes that community policing is a joint endeavour and that partnerships which include a wide variety of stakeholders are the cornerstones upon which strong and vital neighbourhoods are built,” he said. “We have seen that, together, through our joint and sustained efforts, we can develop action-based strategies and meaningful intiatives. So, together, we can create safer and stronger communities throughout Ontario.”
Lee reminded the audience that policing today is more than just law enforcement.
“We must continue to exercise the importance of community mobilisation and community engagement as a critical component of building safe and healthy communities,” he added. “In order to truly reduce crime, community members , social groups, businesses and governments must be able to identify crime trends, be educated in prevention strategies and, together, be prepared to apply overall best practices. Neighbourhoods are safer when residents take control of public spaces.”
Joe Couto, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) director of government relations & communications, joined Saunders and Lee at the annual kick-off.
“This week, we are celebrating not just the extraordinary things that the women and men of all our police services do every day in serving their fellow citizens, but also the safety and well-being partnerships that exist between police, community groups, businesses, governments, schools and individuals,” said Couto. “Together, our officers and members of communities throughout Ontario are joining hands to tackle the issues that need to be tackled with honesty and commitment”.
As the province’s police leaders, Couto said the OACP believes that professional and accountable policing is a crucial part of just and safe societies.
“It is in the DNA of policing in our province. That’s why this Police Week places so much emphasis on police personnel and our diverse communities working together to build safe, healthy communities where all are welcomed, where all are respected and where all are valued.”
Church Street Junior Public School students sang the national anthem while Detective Sergeant Deborah Hartford of Operational Support Services was the master of ceremonies.