Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Andy Pringle, Chief Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory welcomed the new senior command officers to the fold.
New Deputy Chiefs Shawna Coxon, Barbara McLean and Peter Yuen were introduced before the TPSB meeting began on August 24.
Pringle said the promotion process was rigorous and the trio was chosen from an outstanding field of candidates inside and outside the Service.
“These are three innovative and inspiring leaders who will help us move the Service in a progressive, modernized and transformational fashion, finding ways to better serve the public,” he said. “Together, these individuals bring extraordinary expertise in community policing, human resources, diversity and inclusion, fiscal responsibility, mentorship and strategic management.”
Saunders said the new Deputies are amazing individuals whom he has had the privilege of working with as all have spent their policing careers in Toronto.
“I really look forward to working with them,” he said. “I think what you are going to see is less talk and more action and, more importantly, the innovative and inspirational leadership that we are looking for.”
Tory noted that the new Deputies’ incredible experience, the record of confidence and excellence they have established, the diversity they represent, their educational qualifications and their extensive community involvement caught his attention.
“This team, together with one more Deputy (James Ramer) and, of course, our CAO (Chief Administrative Officer Tony Veneziano), fill me with confidence as we move forward with the task of modernizing and transforming our police service and making sure that we earn, maintain and, in some instances, rebuild the trust of the public,” added Tory, who is also a TPSB member.
Deputy Chief Michael Federico is retiring in September.
When it became official on August 23 that Barb McLean is one Toronto Police’s three new Deputy Chiefs, she immediately called her mother – who turns 75 later this year - in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.
“Mom was very emotional and she teared up,” recalled McLean. “She went around the neighbourhood a few hours later telling everyone about my promotion. She is super proud of her only child’s achievements.”
As she was completing her undergraduate degree in business administration & management at St. Francis Xavier University in 1989, Toronto Police was in the Maritimes on a recruitment drive.
“I was coming to Toronto anyway after university, so I decided to apply and was hired,” said McLean, who also holds a criminology certificate and Master of Industrial Relations & Human Resources from the University of Toronto, a certificate in Teaching Effectiveness, Curriculum & Instruction from Humber College and a Master of Business Administration from York University. “At the time, I thought it would be really cool job. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to do some amazing things and, looking back, I know I made the right decision in joining Toronto’s largest police service.”
Deputy Chief McLean started her law enforcement career at 14 Division.
Over the years, she was assigned to many units, including Marine and Employment and was the 55 Division unit commander before being appointed Deputy Chief.
“For me to have the confidence of the Toronto Police Services Board and the Chief to be part of the command team at such an important time in our city makes me very proud and excited,” said McLean, who volunteers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Windreach Farm, which is a fully accessible working farm that provides an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment for persons of all ages and abilities.
As a member of the Transformational Task Force team, she helped to develop the vision for modern policing in Toronto and remains a key leader and influencer in the implementation of the modernization strategy.
McLean also spearheaded the Human Resources modernization with a People Plan that will be unveiled later this month and a restructuring strategy that will support the Service’s modernization.
An avid cyclist who enjoys beekeeping, she founded the Service’s LGBTQ Internal Support Network.
Deputy Chief Yuen has come a long way since migrating with his family from Hong Kong in 1975.
In elementary and high school, he and his brother were bullied and teased because of the way they spoke.
“We didn’t speak a word of English when we got here,” he said. “It was tough for us back in those days. I have watched this city grow and mature, so to be embraced by my colleagues and recognized for the work I do is quite humbling and gratifying.”
In his second year as a chemical engineering student at McMaster University, Yuen quit to become a police officer.
Starting at 55 Division in May 1987, he was promoted to Sergeant in 1996, Staff Sergeant four years later, Duty Desk Inspector in 2006, Staff Inspector in 2012 and Superintendent two years later.
He was the Staff Superintendent in charge of Corporate Risk Management since February 2016 before being promoted to Deputy Chief.
During his four stints at 55 Division, that Division’s youth scholarship program was created in 2003, an accomplishment that he’s very proud of.
Yuen, who played a key role in the resurgence of the Community Police Academy and is the holder of an undergraduate degree in Justice Studies and a Master of Arts in Leadership, is the first officer of Asian heritage to hold the rank of Deputy Chief.
“I know there are going to be a lot of expectations and I am ready to step up to the plate and do my utmost best to represent the Service,” he said.
It was through a strange twist of fate that Deputy Chief Coxon became a police officer 21 years ago.
“I was interested in social work, but a very good friend of mine asked me to accompany her to the tryouts because she was nervous,” she said. “I got hired and she didn’t. I said this is interesting and I will try it for a little bit.”
Two decades later, Coxon made the leap from Inspector to Deputy Chief.
“This is an exciting time to be part of Toronto Police Service and I am so honoured and excited to be part of a new leadership team,” she said. “This is going to directly impact how we work with communities and the strength of our relationship with the community we serve and our membership.”
Coxon was an Inspector with Strategy Management where she led a team focused on supporting the implementation of the Transformational Task Force recommendations before her promotion to Deputy Chief.
She has had a diverse career, working in both a uniform and an investigative capacity.
Coxon has a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Psychology from York University, a Master’s in Criminology from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in Criminal Law from Leicester University.
She is a published academic who has lectured internationally. Her areas of research include varying local and international laws pertaining to technology and crime.
“The great love of my life is policing,” Coxon, who was raised by a single mother, said. “I have enjoyed, immensely, every role that I have been part of. Going back to school, being part of volunteer work and the academic world centre around policing, but in different ways. I feel like I have spent all my time looking at policing from different lenses and being part of it in different ways. I am so in love with the work we do and being a public servant.
“Where else do you get to be in a line of work where every day you come in and you are part of a team that’s going out there not knowing what the next call will bring forth?”
Coxon was the second in charge of Intelligence Services, which includes cyber and technological crime. Prior to her promotion to Inspector, she implemented the inaugural Computer Cyber Crime (C3) Section of the Toronto Police Service. C3 was one of many cyber-outcomes from her work as the Team Leader of Operation Reboot which was a Service-wide initiative addressing social media, open source investigative techniques, training, technology procurement and cyber-related threats and opportunities.
She was a member of this year’s Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference that brings together Canada’s emerging leaders from business, labour, government, non-governmental organizations, education and the cultural sector for a unique two-week experience aimed at broadening their perspectives on work, leadership, their communities and their country.