Nearly two years after former police chief Mark Saunders stepped down from the role, the Toronto Police Services Board has released a job posting for chief of police.
Ryan Teschner, the board’s executive director, told CBC News recent public consultations will help inform the selection process.
“The selection and recruitment of the chief of police is among the most important responsibilities of the Toronto Police Services Board,” he said. “So the board understood the importance of engaging with diverse communities, stakeholders and groups right across the city.”
Saunders resigned in June of 2020, and James Ramer was subsequently named interim chief. The board extended Ramer’s appointment last year.
Teschner said Environics Research was hired to conduct four public consultations in different parts of the city, alongside an online survey that garnered several hundred responses, and 30 focus groups with different stakeholders.
“This was by far the most extensive public consultation process the board has ever conducted for the chief of police selection,” he said.
That research — the results of which can be viewed here — outlined the qualities respondents are searching for in their next police chief. They are:
- Someone who is committed to the needs of diverse communities.
- A person who would be accountable.
- A new chief who would be a “courageous system-changer.”
- Someone who would be transparent and communicate well with the public.
- A skilled collaborator.
- A person who would bring in an anti-discrimination and inclusion focus.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a professor and criminologist at the University of Toronto, told CBC News that there will no doubt be a number of factors at play when it comes to the selection process.
When it comes to the public, he said, there will be proponents of both “law and order” policing, as well as those who would rather see police defunded. Then there are also political interests at play, he said, as well as considerations of the police association, which holds “a lot of power” in the process.
“Historically, the police have not necessarily hired the most progressive or transformative-minded candidates when presented to them — and I think the last formal search for a chief demonstrated that wholeheartedly,” Owusu-Bempah said.
“Here, I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes open to see whether what the service said it’s looking for and my assumption being what the service heard from the community … is followed through with respect to this hire.”
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