Corp Comm Connects

'WE'RE SURPRISED': Toronto Police Chief Saunders has contract extended
August 28, 2019
Antonella Artuso

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has had his contract extended by a year, a move that “surprised” the Toronto Police Association.

“It has been a great privilege to lead the members of the Toronto Police Service, Canada’s largest, and in my opinion, best municipal police service,” Saunders said in a statement Tuesday after the Toronto Police Services Board announcement. “I am humbled to be continuing in this role and I thank the members of the Toronto Police Service for their commitment to keeping our city safe and to building strong communities.”

According to the board, Saunders’ work on the police service’s modernization plan was a key reason for the renewal to April 30, 2021.

“Chief Saunders has been an exceptional leader through his term to date, and his renewed appointment signals the board’s commitment to the full implementation of the modernization plan, which, upon completion, will cement the Toronto Police Service’s reputation as a world-class leader in progressive community policing and innovative law enforcement,” chair Andy Pringle said.

“As the service’s transformation progresses, the board believes the stability in leadership brought by Chief Saunders is critical to continuing the progress that has been made thus far.”

Mayor John Tory also praised the chief for his efforts to modernize the service, and said the extra time in office will give him the opportunity to complete more of that important work.

But Mike McCormack, TPA president, said he hopes the next police chief will be more supportive of frontline officers, providing them with the supports and tools they need to do the job.

“In the new chief, they’re going to want to see somebody that is addressing the concerns from the frontline,” McCormack said. “There’s a total disconnect right now between this chief and our officers on the street.

The police service is in total disarray, he said, with officers experiencing burn out and low morale.

Meanwhile, gun violence has steadily increased over the past four years, he said.

“We’re surprised that the chief was renewed, quite honestly,” McCormack said.

The board noted that Saunders is only the second chief in 40 years to see his term extended.

“The board is confident in Chief Saunders’ ability to continue to advance the organization in this final phase of his mandate, which will cap off a distinguished 38-year career with the Toronto Police Service,” it said.