Interim Chief Sets Priorities

Office of the Chief
Toronto Police Service (TPS) Interim Chief James Ramer shared some of his priorities less than a week after taking over from Mark Saunders who retired on July 31.

At his first news conference on August 6, he spoke about his priorities over the course of this year, including:

  • Finding ways to work with partners to better address mental health calls for service both through an allocation of resources and by identifying a more robust solution
  • Supporting initiatives under our Equity, Inclusion, and Human Rights Unit – the first of its kind in Canada – that continue commitment to identify and eliminate systemic issues of anti-Black racism, and improve capacity in areas of workplace harassment and gender and Trans inclusion
  • Expanding efforts to combat gun and gang violence by putting more focus on the gang prevention strategy
  • A more aggressive approach to traffic enforcement, to create safer streets for everyone
  • Service-wide implementation of body-worn cameras to enhance transparency of interactions between police and the public

“My commitment through all of this is to show our communities that in the city of Toronto, residents can trust the police, have faith in the police and feel safe and secure to enjoy their daily lives with the police,” said Interim Chief Ramer. “An important way that the Toronto Police Service will do better by others is by ensuring we are accountable for our own actions.”

The veteran officer with 40 years of service under his belt took the opportunity to address the assault of Dafonte Miller. A Toronto Police officer was found guilty of assault in the December 2016 incident.

“As everyone knows, the matter of Dafonte Miller and the Theriault brothers has been a complex case,” the Interim Chief said. “Even with the recent verdict, this case is far from over. I also want to acknowledge that Mr. Miller’s life has forever been impacted by the events of that evening.”

A report, completed by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director that was delivered to the TPSB, was shared with Miller and his counsel on August 6.

Because of confidentiality requirements in the Police Service’s Act, Interim Chief Ramer isn’t permitted to comment on the report details or release it.

“I can share that generally, this report focused on the issue of a police service’s duty to report to the Special Investigations Unit,” he said. “It found that, on the night in question, we were notified of the actions of Constable Theriault while he was on leave, also known as ‘off duty’.

“As we have so many times before, we used the information available to us that evening to determine whether we should report to the SIU. We made the wrong decision that night. As a result of that decision, trust has been broken between the police, Dafonte Miller and the broader community. For that, on behalf of the Toronto Police Service, I want to apologize.”

Going forward, Ramer said the Service will notify the SIU in all cases where a police officer has been involved in an incident that results in serious injury.

“We are revising our procedures in this area and will be implementing the new, more robust legislation regarding the reporting requirements for SIU matters,” he pointed out. “We understand clearly now the legislation doesn’t distinguish between on-duty and off-duty conduct and neither will we. The SIU plays an extremely important function in ensuring accountability and public trust. I will ensure that the SIU makes the decision on whether to invoke their mandate.”

Ramer said he’s honoured to serve as Interim Chief until the TPSB selects a new Chief.

“I don’t face these challenge alone,” he said. “I am surrounded by a very capable command team, qualified senior officers and dedicated frontline members, both uniform and civilian.”

In thanking Saunders for his service, he said the retired Chief set a standard of professionalism and excellence that all Service members, including him, aspire to maintain.

Ramer added that he’s proud of the TPS members.

“They are a team of incredibly diverse professionals who continue to answer the call of service to the community every day,” he said. “They know the value of community partnerships. They know that without them, progress isn’t possible. They know we are facing a difficult time and they are ready.”

In introducing Ramer at the news conference, TPSB Executive Director Ryan Teschner said the peaceful demonstrations across the city in the past few weeks are a clear reminder that the Service can and must listen and then work in partnership to improve the social fabric that ‘holds us together.’

“In Interim Chief Ramer, the Board has selected an individual who is committed to listening and to doing the hard work together with Toronto’s diverse communities to build and enhance public trust in the Toronto Police Service,” he said.

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