Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced he is stepping down, effective July 31.
Chief Saunders praised his organization and made it clear that he is not leaving Canada’s largest municipal police service with a heavy heart.
“I have watched this organization - from start to finish - grow, learn, listen and serve the fourth largest city in North America, and likely the most diverse city in the world,” he said at a press conference at police headquarters on June 8. “I have also made some of the best partnerships and friendships while in office as the Chief.”
The Chief thanked his members and asked them to keep building the strong relationships they need with the community with action, not just words.
“The public is asking, and I know that you will continue to listen.”
Saying that he’s leaving without regrets, Saunders pointed to the Transformational Task Force (TTF) that he co-chaired with former Toronto Police Services Board member Andy Pringle as one of the highlights of his law enforcement career.
As a starting point for modernization, culture change calling for a more ‘comprehensive people management strategy’ was identified as a key component.
“The concept of the Transformational Task Force was giving equal ownership of what the Toronto Police Service should look like and no one has ever done that before,” he said. “It was one of my most uncomfortable moments of picking a team with different lenses, colours and mindsets and we built from a blank page. That has never been done before. Now you fast forward to today and look at where we are at. The community wants more ownership of what law enforcement needs to look like. It was really cutting edge.”
“Many are called, but few are chosen to become a member of this organization,” he said. “This is the big show. This is the last dance when it comes to policing in Canada. We haven’t been perfect, but we have always tried to move towards excellence. My advice is to never stop, always listen and serve with compassion.”
In thanking his Command, he said, “these executive officers are the best in the world and I am yet to see a more diverse Command”.
He also thanked his wife and family for standing beside him in his capacity as Chief, and the citizens of Toronto for their partnership and trust.
Saunders also thanked the media, adding there’s a double-edge sword to this relationship, but no one can ever deny the power of delivering important and informative messages.”
The Chief said he has always given policing 100 per cent during close to four decades with the Toronto Police Service.
“It’s time to say thank you Toronto. Thanks for your support, thank you for continuing to work with us, but of utmost importance, I want to say thank you for giving us time whenever you thought our actions were questionable.
“Accountability and transparency are the fabric of public trust which is the fabric to create community safety. As this organization continues to move forward, I want to reassure you that we recognize that above all else the Toronto Police Service will continue to do everything it can to ensure that public trust is at the forefront of every word and every deed.
In May 2015, Saunders was named as the city’s 10th Chief of Police and the Service’s first Black Chief.