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Toronto, Jun 9 (Canadian-Media): Toronto Police Services (TPS)'s first black Chief Mark Saunders announced his decision to the TPS board members to step down from the TPS effective Jul 31, 2020, media reports said.
Mark Saunders. Image credit: Twitter handle
Saunders, Toronto's first Black police chief, was appointed in April of 2015 and had worked in police services for over 37 years.
It was announced by TPS board last summer about its decision to renew Saunders' appointment until April 30, 2021. In the last 40 years, it was only the second time that a Toronto police chief was allowed to serve more than a single term.
Saunders did not give a reason for resigning from his post eight months prior to his contract to expire in 2021, he said there are things he wants to do for the city of Toronto for free.
Saunders added that he is looking forward to spend more time with his family and added he would continue to serve the city from outside the TPS.
Saunders also added that his decision to step down is not heath-related.
In a statement issued June 8 afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory said Saunders had told him last week he planned to retire.
"On behalf of all Toronto residents, I want to thank Chief Saunders for his exemplary service...He has been a dedicated and responsible chief of police...cares deeply about the people of the city, all of its neighbourhoods, and about the men and women who serve with him," said Tory.
Saunders thanked the TPS Board, John Tory for his support of the TPS, the media personnel for delivering important and informative messages, and the members of the community.
"We have not always been perfect but have always tried to move towards excellence...My advice is to never stop, always listen and serve with compassion...Accountability and transparency are the fabric of public trust; public trust is the fabric that creates community
safety...public trust is the forefront of every word and every deal," said Saunders in the news conference.
Saunders decision to depart is at the crucial moment of a massive discussion about police reform is sweeping across North America sparked by deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Toronto resident Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
During the recent weekend protests played out peacefully in Toronto in support of the international Black Lives Matter movement, Saunders was featured taking a knee as a show of solidarity with demonstrators.
Saunders will continue to be available to media up to July 31, 2020.