In an online poll last week, the majority of the members of the Toronto Police Association (TPA) – 86 per cent – indicated that they have no confidence in Chief Mark Saunders.
But only 48.1 per cent of the TPA’s membership participated in the vote.
The TPA is at odds with Chief Saunders and the Toronto Police Services Board over the long-term transformational task force plan, which calls for the overall size of the service to shrink by as many as 250 officers by the end of 2019
In a memo sent to members last week, the Association cited Saunders’ “ineffective leadership, lack of communication skills and failure to take responsibility” as reasons for holding the vote.
However, the vote is non-binding as Saunders can only be removed from his job by the Toronto Police Services Board.
In a joint statement released minutes after the results of the vote were announced, the Board said that it “fully and unequivocally supports Chief Saunders.”
“The Board will continue to work with Chief Saunders to ensure that the Toronto Police Service is, and continues to be, an organization of excellence, and an organization committed to positive change and growth,” it said.
Speaking at the end of a Board meeting last Thursday, Saunders blamed the rumblings by the Association on the fact that the service has shrunk due to attrition.
But he said that things would change as the service’s modernization plan is implemented this year.
The transformational task force plan calls for a “culture change,” within the TPS, which would make neighbourhood policing a top priority and place an increased emphasis on technology. The TPA, however, has said that the plan has resulted in a reduction of front-line officers that has caused morale to plummet to an “all-time low.”‘
In Toronto’s Black community there have been concerns about the “real reason” for calling the vote of no-confidence.
But Mike McCormack, president of the TPS, has vehemently denied that it was because Saunders is Black.
“It has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with racism,” he told the Caribbean Camera in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The TPA represents approximately 8,000 uniformed and civilian members of the Toronto Police Service.