Transcript: Mark Saunders: Toronto's Police Chief Leaves His Post | Jun 25, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pale pink shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Toronto's police chief leaves his post. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FIVE YEARS AGO, MARK SAUNDERS BECAME CHIEF OF THE TORONTO POLICE SERVICE. HE WAS A 32-YEAR VETERAN AND ALSO THE FIRST BLACK COP TO GET THAT TOP JOB, SERVING THE MOST DIVERSE CITY IN CANADA. HE LED THE FORCE THROUGH TERROR ATTACKS, A SERIAL KILLER, AND A SPIKE IN GUN VIOLENCE. THEN, EARLIER THIS MONTH, AMIDST A GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOCUSED ON ANTI-BLACK RACISM AND POLICE BRUTALITY, HE SURPRISED EVERYONE AND ANNOUNCED HIS RESIGNATION FROM THAT POST, EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE HIS TERM WAS TO EXPIRE. WITH US NOW TO REFLECT ON THAT DECISION, FIVE CHALLENGING YEARS AND A CAREER OF SERVICE, FROM HIS OFFICE AT HQ: THERE'S TORONTO POLICE CHIEF MARK SAUNDERS...

Saunders is in his fifties, bald, with a trimmed moustache. He's wearing glasses and a police uniform white shirt and black tie.

Steve continues CHIEF SAUNDERS, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU BEGIN. HOW ARE YOU DOING THESE DAYS?

Saunders says GOOD SEEING YOU, STEVE. VERY WELL.

Steve says GOOD TO HEAR IT. EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION AND WE'LL START IT OFF THE TOP. AT A MOMENT IN HISTORY WHEN AN ENTIRE CONTINENT IS FOCUSED ON A SUPREMELY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION ABOUT ANTI-BLACK RACISM AND THE POLICE'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE COMMUNITIES, WHY IS THE FIRST BLACK POLICE CHIEF IN THIS CITY'S HISTORY LEAVING HIS POST EARLY?

The caption changes to "Mark Saunders. Toronto Police Service."

Saunders says WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S A COMBINATION OF A COUPLE OF THINGS AND IT'S KIND OF TOUGH WHEN I'M TALKING ABOUT PERSONAL THINGS WHEN I'M WEARING THE HAT AS CHIEF, BUT AS I STATED EARLIER, THERE WERE SOME PERSONAL ISSUES WITH RESPECT TO WHY I WAS STEPPING DOWN. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT WAS GOING ON. IN FACT, THE DISCUSSIONS ON IT WERE HAD WITH SOME OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS PRIOR TO ALL OF THIS, AND SO WITH DISCUSSIONS HOW I CAME IN WITH CHIEF WAS WITH FAMILY AND I WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT I LEFT WITH FAMILY. IT WAS FUNNY BECAUSE WHAT WAS HAPPENING WAS AS I WAS TALKING ABOUT IT, THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WE NEED YOU TO STAY FOR ANOTHER FIVE YEARS... NOT FROM THE BOARD BUT FROM A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE AND WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO KEEP YOU HERE LONGER? AND SO I WANTED TO MAKE THAT DEFINITIVE, IT'S DONE. I'M LEAVING. THERE WAS NO... WHEN I SIGNED FOR THE YEAR, IT WAS A YEAR. THERE WERE A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT I WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH, AND I WILL SAY THAT THIS COVID-19 HAS MANIFESTED DIFFERENTLY TO A LOT OF PEOPLE, INCLUDING MY FAMILY. AND SO RATHER THAN HAVE PEOPLE THINK THAT THERE IS A POTENTIAL THAT I MAY STAY LONGER, I STOPPED IT. AND I DISCUSSED WITH THE MAYOR AND WITH THE CHAIR BEFORE THAT, BEFORE THAT ANNOUNCEMENT, SO IT WASN'T ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE TIME OF DAY OR THE EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD, IT WAS REALLY ABOUT FAMILY FIRST.

Steve says YOU FAMOUSLY HAD A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR TERM. DOES YOUR EARLY DEPARTURE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HEALTH?

The caption changes to "Mark Saunders, @marksaunerstps."

Saunders says NO, MY WIFE'S KIDNEY IS DOING WELL, THANK YOU FOR ASKING. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM. I'VE DONE ALMOST 38 YEARS AND PEOPLE ARE SAYING WHY? IT'S CLOSE TO 38 YEARS OF POLICING. REALLY, AS I'VE STATED, ALL OF THE REASONS, THE VAST MAJORITY ARE PERSONAL, AND I LIKE THE WAY I'VE BEEN A PART TO BRINGING THE ORGANIZATION TO WHERE IT IS RIGHT NOW. I HAD A MEETING WITH MY SENIOR OFFICERS A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO AND THERE WAS A REAL EPIPHANY FOR ME. I LOOKED AROUND AND FOR THE FIRST TIME I FELT REALLY, REALLY GOOD ABOUT WHERE THIS ORGANIZATION IS GOING, WITH THE LEADERSHIP THAT THIS ORGANIZATION NOW HAS, AND SO I'M EXCITED ABOUT WHERE THIS ORGANIZATION IS GOING TO GO AND I'M GLAD THAT I WAS A PART OF THAT.

Steve says WELL, CAN I FOLLOW UP ON THAT? HOW DIFFERENT IS THE SERVICE YOU LEAD TODAY FROM THE ONE YOU TOOK OVER FIVE YEARS AGO?

Saunders says WELL, FIRST OFF, I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE BEST. ALL THE CHIEFS PRIOR TO ME HAVE DONE AMAZING JOBS DURING THEIR TIME, AND I WILL SAY THAT WE'RE NOW IN A NEW ERA, STEVE, WHERE THINGS ARE MOVING EXPONENTIALLY NOW, WHERE EVERYBODY HAS A VOICE, AND THAT VOICE HAS MOVEMENT. THINGS CAN HAPPEN. AND SO WHEN I GOT INTO THE MODERNIZATION PLAN, WHEN I WORKED WITH A TRANSFORMATIONAL TASK FORCE, IT WAS TO DEVELOP A MODEL THAT WAS NIMBLE, TO DEVELOP A MODEL THAT COULD DEAL WITH THE EXPONENTIAL CHANGE IN WHICH THE WORLD MOVES AT. WE'RE MOVING TOWARDS THAT. AND I'M REALLY PROUD OF THAT ACCOMPLISHMENT.

Steve says YOU KNOW I TAKE NO JOY IN PUTTING THESE CRITICISMS TO YOU, BUT I'M REFLECTING WHAT I HEAR OUT THERE AND I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO IT. BUT, YOU KNOW, CRITICS HAVE DESCRIBED TO YOU AS A GUY THAT'S HAPPY, TOO HAPPY WITH THE STATUS QUO, AND TOO HAPPY WITH INGRATIATING YOURSELF WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PICTURE. THEY SAY YOU WERE A SAFE PICK IN THE FIRST PLACE AND YOU DIDN'T PROVIDE THE SHAKEUP THAT THE POLICE SERVICE. SERVICE HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Saunders says A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE MISINFORMED. THERE IS A LARGE CITY, FOURTH LARGEST ON THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT. THE FACT I COULD SIT DOWN WITH MY CO-CHAIR ANDY PRINGLE AND CREATE A MODEL OF WHAT THE POLICE SERVICE SHOULD LOOK LIKE BY INCORPORATING THE COMMUNITY RIGHT FROM GROUND ZERO, RIGHT FROM A BLANK CANVAS, WAS PHENOMENAL. FIRST WE DID THE INTERIM REPORT AND WE TRAVELLED NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, AND WEST ACROSS THE ENTIRE CITY AND THOUGHT, ARE WE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, GETTING THEIR BUY-IN, GETTING AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WAS GOING ON, AND THEN CREATING A FINAL REPORT. AND THAT FINAL REPORT RESONATED WITH THE PUBLIC BECAUSE WE WERE USING THEIR WORDS. WE WERE LISTENING TO WHAT THEY WERE SAYING. WE'RE AT A SPOT RIGHT NOW WHERE EXCITING THINGS ARE HAPPENING. WE'RE AT A SPOT WHERE WE'VE DONE AMAZING THINGS. WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THINGS THAT WE HAVE CHANGED, YOU KNOW, NOW WITH THE DISCUSSION ABOUT ANTI-BLACK RACISM. I ADDED A THIRD DAY OF TRAINING DEDICATED TO TWO THINGS: NUMBER ONE, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. AND THE SECOND PIECE WAS DEALING WITH PEOPLE THAT LIVE WITH MENTAL HEALTH. IT IS CRITICAL IN TODAY'S ENVIRONMENT, IF WE'RE GOING TO DEFINE VALUE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

Steve says AND THE CRITICISM THAT SOME SAW... AGAIN, THIS IS THEIR WORDS... THAT YOU INGRATIATED YOURSELF WITH THE WHITE POWER STRUCTURE OF THIS CITY IN ORDER TO GET AND KEEP YOUR JOB, YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

Saunders says I DON'T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE OR WHAT THEY'RE SAYING. IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT I HAVE DONE OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, WE HAVE MOVED THIS ORGANIZATION FORWARD, AND THERE'S NO DENYING THAT. YOU CAN USE INCREDIBLE UNIVERSITY WORDS, AT THE END OF THE DAY WE CREATED SOME FANTASTIC DELIVERABLES, SOME THINGS THAT ARE SUSTAINABLE. AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE TYPE OF TRAINING THAT WE HAVE INCORPORATED IN POLICING TODAY, IT'S SECOND TO NONE. PEOPLE FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD ARE COMING TO SEE HOW WE'RE DOING, WHAT WE'RE DOING.

Steve says WHO OR WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST IMPEDIMENT TO YOU PURSUING YOUR AGENDA?

Saunders says WELL, I WON'T SAY BIGGEST IMPEDIMENT. I THINK WE WERE MOVING AT A FAST RATE. AND WHAT WE FELT WOULD HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL WAS, WHEN ASKED WHY THIS REPORT IS DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER, AND THE ANSWER WAS BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE ON BOARD. A LOT OF PEOPLE WANTED TO MAKE THESE CHANGES. AND I WOULD SAY WE MOVED AT A RATE THAT WAS MUCH FASTER. LAWS AREN'T MOVING AT THE SPEED OF TECHNOLOGY TODAY, AND THAT BECOMES A ROADBLOCK. WHEN WE'RE TRYING TO CREATE AN EVERGREEN ENVIRONMENT IN A VERY, VERY SLOW ROBOTIC MOVING ENVIRONMENT, IT'S NOT HEALTHY. BUT WHAT IT DOES IS IT STARTS THE PULSE FOR OTHERS TO SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT? WE'VE GOT TO PICK IT UP. THE IMPEDIMENTS RIGHT NOW, I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW WORDS CAN TRANSLATE INTO ACTIONS QUICKER, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'VE GOT ENTITIES THAT ARE READY FOR THOSE THINGS TO TAKE PLACE.

Steve says WELL, YOU DIDN'T SPECIFICALLY NAME THE WHO OR THE WHAT SO I'M GOING TO BE A LITTLE BLUNTER THIS TIME AND SEE IF WE CAN NUDGE YOUR ANSWER ALONG A LITTLE MORE. MIKE McCORMICK IS AN ABLE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE TORONTO POLICE UNION. HIS JOB IS NOT TO DO YOUR JOB, HIS JOB IS TO STICK UP FOR HIS GUYS AND THAT'S WHAT HE WOULD SAY HE IS DOING. I WONDER IF HE WAS AN IMPEDIMENT TO YOUR DOING WHAT YOU NEEDED TO DO.

Saunders says WE HAD SOME COMPLEX MOMENTS, THERE'S NO DENYING THAT. BUT I CAN TELL YOU, WE BOTH HAVE THE SAME GOAL AT THE END, WHICH IS WE WANT THE BEST FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION. THE HOW IS WHAT'S DIFFERENT. HE TAKES A DIFFERENT APPROACH THAN I DO. AND SO I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT OF EVERYBODY, AND SO WHEN YOU PLAY IN THOSE TWO LANES, IT DOES CAUSE FRUSTRATION AT TIMES, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE. ONE OF THE BIG THINGS WAS THE SHIFT SCHEDULING. IT WAS A 36, 37-YEAR MODEL IN TODAY'S TIMES. IT NEEDED TO BE ADJUSTED. AND, YOU KNOW, THROUGH EFFORTS AND UNDERSTANDING, WE'VE NOW MOVED TOWARDS THAT, AND BY ALL ACCOUNTS, EVERYTHING IS LOOKING GREAT. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS PANDEMIC HAS SET IN, WHICH HAS SLOWED A FEW THINGS DOWN, STEVE. BUT I THINK IT'S GOING TO CREATE SOME GREAT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE MONTHS TO COME.

Steve says LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT TRUST BECAUSE THERE'S A COUPLE OF QUOTES HERE I WANT TO READ TO YOU. YOU ONCE SAID: PUBLIC TRUST IS A FABRIC THAT CREATES COMMUNITY SAFETY. THE MAYOR OF THE CITY HAS SAID: TRUST HAS BEEN ERODED. HOW MUCH WOULD YOU SAY TORONTONIANS ACTUALLY TRUST THEIR POLICE SERVICE RIGHT NOW?

Saunders says THERE ARE STRONG ELEMENTS OF TRUST, BUT, LISTEN, AS LAW ENFORCEMENT IN TODAY'S ENVIRONMENT, IF YOU'RE NOT ALWAYS WORKING TOWARDS PUBLIC TRUST... PUBLIC TRUST IS EVERYTHING. IT IS THE PULSE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY AND POLICE, AND IF YOU LOSE THAT, YOU'VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO DO QUICKLY TO TURN THAT AROUND AT ALL COSTS, AND WHEN WE SPEAK OF OUR PLAN, IT IS COMMUNITY CENTRIC. IT IS DONE SO DELIBERATELY. BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT'S GOING ON TODAY, STEVE. LOOK AT OUR PROTESTS. WE HAVE PROTESTS WITH 7,000 PEOPLE. YOU NEVER SAW A SHIELD FROM ANY OF MY MEMBERS. TO ME THAT SHOWS THAT THERE ARE ELEMENTS OF TRUST THAT ARE THERE, BUT WE'RE NOT WHERE WE NEED TO BE. THERE NEEDS TO BE A LOT MORE WORK DONE AND WE'RE WILLING TO MAKE THAT WORK HAPPEN. WE NEED TO GET TO THE TABLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US? HOW DO WE CONTINUE THE RELATIONSHIPS. IT'S THROUGH ACTIONS AND TIME THAT DEVELOP PUBLIC TRUST.

Steve says I'M NOW GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE MOST ICONIC MOMENT IN THE ANTI-BLACK RACISM PROTESTS CERTAINLY IN THIS CAPITAL CITY OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. LET'S ROLL THAT TAPE RIGHT NOW AND THEN WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT. GO AHEAD, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen. In the clip, chief Saunders and a female officer walk up to a group of people protesting on a street.

Protestors yell TAKE A KNEE! TAKE A KNEE!

As the protestors bend down on one knee and raised a clenched fist, the two officers facing them do the same.

A protestor says PUT YOUR HANDS UP, TAKE A KNEE.

Another voice says TAKE A KNEE.

The officers comply.

The clip ends.

Steve says CHIEF SAUNDERS, WHAT WENT INTO THAT MOMENT WHERE YOU TOOK THE KNEE WITH DEMONSTRATORS?

Saunders says I UNDERSTOOD WHAT WAS GOING ON. THIS IS... IT'S A WAKE-UP CALL FOR ALL OF US AND FOR ALL MY YEARS IN THE SEAT, ALL THE TOWN HALLS THAT I'VE GONE TO, ALL OF THE CONFERENCES THAT I'VE GONE TO, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I HAVE PEOPLE THAT GET UP AND REPRESENT THE YOUTH. THE YOUTH WANT THIS. THE YOUTH WANT THAT. WHAT I SAW THAT DAY, STEVE, AND IF YOU ROLL THE TAPE AGAIN, I SAW YOUNG MEN AND YOUNG WOMEN. THESE WERE PEOPLE THAT NEVER COME TO THESE EVENTS, NEVER HAVE A VOICE. THEY HAVE PEOPLE THAT REPRESENT THEM. TO ME THIS REPRESENTED HOPE. AND I SAID TO THEM: KEEP SPREADING THE WORD. STAY FOCUSED ON THE MESSAGE. DON'T LET OTHERS DISTRACT FROM THE MESSAGE THAT NEEDS TO BE PUT OUT THERE. THESE PEOPLE WANT TO CARVE THEIR FUTURE, THE WAY IN WHICH THEY WANT THE WORLD TO BE. AND SO IF WE DON'T RESPOND QUICKLY, WE WILL LOSE THEM. AND IF WE LOSE THEM, THEN ALL OF THIS IS FOR NAUGHT. AND I THINK THAT THAT'S CRITICAL. AND SO BY ME TAKING THE KNEE, IT'S... LISTEN, I'M A BLACK MAN TOO. I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU FEEL THIS WAY. BUT WE HAVE TO GET TO THE TABLE. THINGS HAVE TO BE DONE AND ACTIONS HAVE TO TAKE PLACE. THEE PROTESTS THAT ARE GOING ON, IT IS A MESSAGE THAT PEOPLE ARE FRUSTRATED, THEY'RE FRUSTRATED BY WHAT'S HAPPENING. YOU CAN'T SAY ON ONE VOICE THAT ALL LIVES ARE TREATED EQUAL AND THEN, ON THE OTHER SPECTRUM, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DO IT BECAUSE OF YOUR ADDRESS, BECAUSE OF POSTAL CODE. THERE ARE A LOT OF ISSUES TAKING PLACE. RIGHT NOW THEY HAVE HAVE TRANSLATED TO POLICE AND COMMUNITY. THE POLICE DEAL WITH THE SYMPTOMS OF THAT DISEASE EACH AND EVERY DAY. THERE'S A BIT OF SLEIGHT OF HANDS GOING ON. THE FUNDING HAS TO BE, IT'S NOT JUST GIVING A BAG OF MONEY, IT'S UNDERSTANDING WHAT EVERY SINGLE COMMUNITY NEEDS IN THAT MOMENT, WHY THEY NEED IT, AND THEN CREATING THE RIGHT, SUSTAINABLE FUNDING IN ORDER TO MAKE IT WORK.

Steve says WELL, I CERTAINLY HEARD PLENTY OF PRAISE, CHIEF SAUNDERS, FOR THAT GESTURE THAT YOU TOOK ON THAT DAY, AND YOU RECEIVED NUMEROUS COMPLIMENTS FOR IT, AND IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE, AS I SUGGESTED EARLIER, ICONIC DEMONSTRATION OF SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE PROTESTERS. OTHERS WOULD POINT OUT THAT FOUR YEARS AGO, YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THAT WITH BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTERS WHO WERE CAMPED OUTSIDE THE BUILDING THAT YOU ARE IN RIGHT NOW, AND THEY WERE HIGHLIGHTING THE DEATH OF A BLACK MAN AT THE HANDS OF POLICE, ANDREW LOKU, AND YOU DECLINED AT THAT TIME TO MEET WITH THEM, AND I GUESS THEY'RE WONDERING WHETHER THAT CAUSE WAS ANY LESS JUST THAN THIS CAUSE.

Saunders says NO. WHAT IT WAS WAS A METHODOLOGY. THE POINT ONE VERSION HAD ONE SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING: SHUT IT DOWN. THAT WAS IT. IF YOU GO BACK AND YOU LISTEN TO MY QUOTES, I SAID, LISTEN, ANYONE WHO WANTS TO COME IN, GET TO THE TABLE, AND HAVE SOME MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS, MY DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN. I QUOTED THAT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. BUT THEY REFUSED TO DO THAT. AT ONE POINT IN TIME THERE'S A BIG PICTURE OF ME AT HEADQUARTERS SAYING, YOU MAY THINK THAT I'M MARK SAUNDERS, BUT REALLY, I'M A WHITE SUPREMACIST. IT WAS ALL ABOUT SOUND BITES. WE HAVE PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD SAYING THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE SYSTEM, IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED.

Steve says LET ME DO ONE FOLLOW-UP ON THAT. THIS IS SANDY HUDSON OF BLACK LIVES MATTER IN TORONTO WRITING IN THE HUFFINGTON POST...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Not in our corner." The quote reads "Black communities interact with police regularly because we live in neighbourhoods police target. We are experts in the ways that police can brutalize and inflict violence upon us. Their presence is no assurance of safety.
Wealthier, non-Black, non-Indigenous, privileged communities tend to feel safe because they have a rarely used option to call the police when they feel their safety is threatened. But, they are generally not interacting with police; their communities are not policed in the same way, and they are not targeted for criminalization.
The very purpose of the police has always been antithetical to the safety of Black and Indigenous people."
Quoted from Sandy Hudson, The Huffington Post. June 2, 2020.

Steve says CAN I GET YOU TO COMMENT ON THAT, CHIEF SAUNDERS?

Saunders says SURE. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS TO THAT, STEVE. FIRST AND FOREMOST, AGAIN, I DIDN'T SEE A SOLUTION THERE, AND THAT'S A VERY COMMON THEME. GREAT AT POINTING THINGS OUT BUT NEVER NECESSARILY SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION OTHER THAN THE MONEY GOES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY. HOW THAT MONEY GOES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY IS WHAT IS CRITICAL IF THIS IS GOING TO WORK. AND SO THAT'S THE FIRST THING. AND THE SECOND THING, I'VE BEEN IN COMMUNITIES FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS. I'VE NEVER SEEN HER IN THE COMMUNITY. SO, LISTEN, IF WE'RE GOING TO HELP COMMUNITIES, WE HAVE TO GET INTO THE COMMUNITIES AND HEAR THEM SPEAK. I KEEP HEARING A LOT OF TIMES, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COMMUNITY, AND I GO INTO THE COMMUNITY AND THEY GO, "WHO ARE THEY?" SO LET'S GET THIS RIGHT AND LET'S WORK COLLECTIVELY. THAT'S WHAT'S IMPORTANT HERE. WE CAN POINT FINGERS ALL DAY LONG. NOTHING HAPPENS. IT'S ABOUT WORKING COLLECTIVELY. THERE ARE THINGS THAT THE POLICE HAVE TO DO. THAT'S JUST THE WAY THINGS ARE RIGHT NOW. IF WE CAN REDUCE THE THINGS WE HAVE TO DO, I'M ALL FOR IT, BUT I'M ALL FOR IT IF THERE IS A STRUCTURE IN PLACE THAT IS SUSTAINABLE, THAT GIVES THE RIGHT PRODUCTIVITY TO ENHANCE COMMUNITY SAFETY, WHICH IS THE SECOND GOAL IN A MODERNIZATION PLAN, TO ENHANCE PARTNERSHIPS, TO CREATE BETTER COMMUNITY SAFETY. SO I'M IN ALIGNMENT WITH THAT. THIS IS NOT ANYTHING THAT'S NEW TO ME. BUT, AGAIN, ABSOLUTELY THERE ARE SOLUTIONS THERE.

Steve says I'M HAPPY TO POINT OUT FOR THE RECORD AS THE FIRST BLACK POLICE CHIEF IN THE CITY'S HISTORY, YOU NO DOUBT HAD AN INCREDIBLE BURDEN ON YOUR SHOULDERS AND YOU HAD SKY HIGH EXPECTATIONS FROM MANY MEMBERS OF THE BLACK COMMUNITIES THAT YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO DO WHAT PREVIOUS WHITE PREDECESSORS HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO DO, NAMELY, IMPROVE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE POLICE AND THE BLACK MEMBERS OF THIS COMMUNITY. DO YOU THINK YOU SUCCEEDED IN IMPROVING THAT RELATIONSHIP?

Saunders says YES, I'VE DEFINITELY MOVED IT FORWARD. MY ROLE IS NOT TO BE ALL ENCOMPASSING, BECAUSE YOU'RE A BLACK CHIEF, EVERYTHING CHANGES. THAT'S NOT HOW CULTURE CHANGES. YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THE GREAT LEADERS THAT WERE OF COLOUR. EVERYTHING DOESN'T CHANGE JUST BECAUSE OF THAT. BUT THE ONE THING THAT CAN'T BE DENIED IS THAT I HAVE A LIVED EXPERIENCE. THAT LIVED EXPERIENCE IS ALSO MANIFESTING ITSELF IN THIS SEAT. I UNDERSTAND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE IN BLACK SKIN AND LIVING IN THE NEIGHBOURHOODS. I UNDERSTAND WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE IN A STORE AND BEING FOLLOWED AROUND BY SECURITY, EVEN AS CHIEF OF POLICE. MY WIFE SITS DOWN FROM THE BACK, SHE'S WHITE, AND SHE WATCHES THIS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THERE IS SYSTEMIC RACISM WITHIN OUR COUNTRY. THERE IS SYSTEMIC RACISM RIGHT ACROSS THE WORLD. THAT'S WHAT THESE PROTESTS ARE ABOUT. NOW IT'S TIME TO GET BLACK PEOPLE TO EXECUTIVE TABLES, TO HAVE THAT POWER IMBALANCE TO BE SHIFTED, TO HAVE SYSTEMS PUT IN PLACE THAT SPEAKS TO EQUITY RIGHT ACROSS THE BOARD. THAT'S NOT HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A COMPUTER IN YOUR HOUSE, YOU'RE AT A 30 percent DEFICIT IN YOUR EDUCATIONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. SO WHERE ARE THE COMPUTERS IN THOSE NEIGHBOURHOODS? AND WE CAN GO ON AND ON AND ON, STEVE. YOU PROBABLY KNOW THIS BETTER THAN ME. WE NEED TO GET TO THE REAL TRUTH AND WE HAVE TO ACT ON THAT TRUTH.

Steve says LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, CHIEF. DO YOU THINK IN THIS DAY AND AGE, THE TORONTO POLICE SERVICE OUGHT TO BE RESPONDING TO CALLS WHEN THE CALL IS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES?

Saunders says WE'RE THE ONES BEING CALLED. WE'RE THE ONES BEING CALLED. WE ARE THE DE FACTO 24 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, INCLUDING CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR'S EVE, WE ARE IT. NOBODY ELSE STANDS UP. NOBODY ELSE TAKES THESE CALLS. WE DO IT. AND WHAT WE'VE DONE IS WE HAVE ENHANCED OUR TRAINING AND OUR TRAINING IS STATE OF THE ART. IT'S ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD, STEVE. WE UTILIZE CAMH, WE USE MEDICAL FACILITIES, WE USE PSYCHOLOGISTS, WE USE DOCTORS, WE SPEAK TO ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, WE SPEAK TO THE PRIVACY COMMISSION. IT'S WRITTEN BY A COLLECTIVE GROUP AND IT IS EVERGREEN. WE'RE ALWAYS LEARNING HOW TO IMPROVE ON THAT. BUT UNTIL OTHER SYSTEMS ARE IN PLACE TO TAKE OVER THESE 30,000 CALLS IN A SYSTEM THAT ACTUALLY WORKS, I WILL GLADLY HAND IT OFF TO THEM.

Steve says GIVEN WHAT YOU KNOW RIGHT NOW, DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE BETTER IN FUTURE IF IT WERE POSSIBLE TO CREATE DIFFERENT SYSTEMS FOR A DIFFERENT ORGANIZATION OR INSTITUTION TO RESPOND TO THESE CALLS?

Saunders says LOOK AT THE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES THAT ARE HAPPENING IN OUR CITY. THE ONE THING THAT HAS GROWN EVERY SINGLE YEAR, EVERY SINGLE YEAR, HAS BEEN OUR CALLS FOR MENTAL HEALTH. AND SO RIGHT NOW THE ONES THAT DON'T HAVE FAMILIES ARE EITHER WITH US IN PROCESS, ON THE STREETS, OCCUPYING A HOSPITAL BED, OR IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES. THAT'S IT. AND SO, YOU KNOW, IF YOU WANT TO SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT THE POLICE ARE THE PROBLEM, I'M TELLING YOU, IT'S THE SYSTEM THAT'S THE PROBLEM RIGHT NOW. AND AS THAT NUMBER KEEPS INCREASING, IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT LOOKING AFTER HEALTH AND YOU'RE GOING TO SAY ALL IS WELL, IF OTHER SYSTEMS AREN'T IN PLACE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS, ALL IS NOT WELL.

Steve says WELL, I'M SURE YOU SAW MAYOR TORY'S PRESS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING IN WHICH HE PUT FORWARD A MOTION SUGGESTING THAT ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF COMMUNITY SAFETY RESPONSE OUGHT TO BE DEVELOPED, THE CREATION OF A NON-POLICE-LED RESPONSE TO CALLS WHICH DON'T INVOLVE WEAPONS OR VIOLENCE, WOULD YOU BE FOR THAT?

Saunders says YEAH. I WANT TO SEE WHAT THIS PLAN IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. I THINK THAT SOME OF THE THINGS ARE OVERSIMPLIFIED. I HAVE SAT AT MANY ROUND TABLES FOR YEARS, BRINGING ALL OF THE VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS. WE'VE ALL GOT UP AND CHEERED EACH OTHER AND SAID THIS IS A GREAT THING, LET'S GET OUT THERE, AND NOTHING HAPPENS. AGAIN, IT SPEAKS TO THE MODERNIZATION PLAN CREATING PARTNERSHIPS. IF WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS RIGHT, THEN OTHERS HAVE TO STEP UP AND BE THE 24 HOUR A DAY, SEVEN DAY A WEEK ENTITY THAT STEPS IN FRONT OF US AND TAKES THESE CALLS ON. I JUST DON'T SEE IT YET.

Steve says FAIR POINT. YOU KNOW, OF COURSE, THAT IF THIS DOES GO FORWARD AND IF IN FACT AN ALTERNATIVE MODE OF DELIVERY CAN BE CREATED, THEY ARE GOING TO WANT TO FUND IT FROM THE MONEY THAT CURRENTLY GOES TO THE POLICE BUDGET. WOULD YOU UNDERSTAND THAT POLICE BUDGETS MAY HAVE TO BE SMALLER IN FUTURE YEARS IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE THIS NEW DELIVERY SYSTEM?

Saunders says WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ENHANCE COMMUNITY SAFETY, I'M ALL FOR IT. BUT I JUST WANT TO BE CAUTIOUS AND SAY THAT IT HAS TO BE BUILT FIRST BEFORE THE FUNDS ARE REMOVED. 90 percent OF MY BUDGET, SALARY AND BENEFITS, NINE ZERO. THAT OTHER 10 percent, STEVE, HAS BEEN TINKERED WITH FOR AS LONG AS I CAN THINK. SO IF SOMEBODY WANTS TO COME IN AND DO THE LINE BY LINE, THEY CAN HAVE IT. IF WE WANT TO HAVE VEHICLES OR GAS OR THE ABILITY TO FLUSH A TOILET AND THEY WANT TO CUT THAT DOWN, BY ALL MEANS GO AHEAD. BUT 90 percent OF OUR BUDGET IS SALARY AND BENEFITS.

Steve says YOU KNOW OF COURSE THAT TWO TORONTO CITY COUNCILLORS HAVE FILED A MOTION TO CUT THE TORONTO POLICE BUDGET WHICH CURRENTLY STANDS AT NORTH OF A BILLION DOLLARS. THEY'D LIKE TO CUT IT BY 10 percent, WHICH WOULD BE A LITTLE OVER 120 MILLION dollars, AND REALLOCATE THAT MONEY INTO SOCIAL SERVICES. YOUR FRIEND, MR. McCORMICK, FROM THE POLICE ASSOCIATION CALLS THAT GRANDSTANDING. WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?

Saunders says WELL, IF THEY'RE GOING TO DO THAT, AND I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNITY SAFETY, ADEQUATE AND EFFECTIVE POLICING, BY LAW. AND SO THE NUMBERS WILL DICTATE WHAT WE CAN AND CAN'T DO. BUT BY LAW, WE HAVE TO PROVIDE THAT. AND SO IF WHATEVER COMES ACROSS THE TABLE IS NOT VIABLE, IF THERE AREN'T OTHER THINGS IN PLACE, THEN WE'LL BE THERE TO SAY, YOU HAVE TO PUT OTHER THINGS IN PLACE BEFORE ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. I'M PRETTY SURE AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF IT'S DONE RIGHT, IT'S NOT TO BE PUNITIVE TO THE POLICE, BUT IT'S TO ENHANCE COMMUNITY SAFETY. AND IF THAT'S THE CASE, THEN THEY HAVE TO LISTEN TO ALL OF THE STAKEHOLDERS AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THIS IS DONE OR WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THIS IS NOT DONE.

Steve says CHIEF SAUNDERS, YOU TOLD US EARLIER THAT YOU THOUGHT RELATIONS BETWEEN YOUR POLICE SERVICE AND THE BLACK COMMUNITIES HAD BEEN IMPROVED UNDER YOUR WATCH, AND I WONDER IF YOU'D SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY?

Saunders says YOU KNOW, EVERYTHING IS EVERGREEN. SOME PEOPLE, WHEN I GO INTO THE COMMUNITY, FINE, LOVE ME. OTHERS, NOT SO GREAT. I UNDERSTAND, AND IF WE'RE GOING TO GET THIS RIGHT IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, THEN THE INCLUSION OF ALL COMMUNITY IS NECESSARY FOR US TO GET IT RIGHT. I'VE MADE A LOT OF EFFORT TO TRY TO MAKE THINGS WORK. I'VE GOT LOTS OF REPRESENTATIVES THAT ARE HELPING AS WELL. I'VE GOT NEIGHBORHOOD OFFICERS THAT ARE DEDICATED TO THAT COMMUNITY. I KNOW THAT THE COMMANDER IN THAT DIVISION IS CONTINUALLY UPDATING ME AND ADVISING ME OF WHAT THE CONCERNS ARE. I'VE ALWAYS OFFERED MY HAND IF THERE IS ANYTHING THAT IS NEEDED. THERE IS STILL ROOM TO GROW. I WILL SPEAK TO THE FACT THAT THIS ORGANIZATION WAS THE FIRST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO HAVE A GENDER NEUTRAL FACILITIES AND THE COMMITMENT THAT ANY NEW BUILDING WILL ALWAYS HAVE THAT. LISTEN, WE'RE TRYING TO GET THIS RIGHT. A LOT OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITIES ARE REALLY ONSIDE WITH THE POLICE BUT WE STILL HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO TO GET TO CERTAIN CORNERS THAT ARE HARD FOR US TO GET TO.

Steve says I POINT OUT A COUPLE OF THINGS. NUMBER ONE, OF COURSE THE POLICE HAVE QUITE NOTABLY BEEN ASKED NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIDE PARADE FOR A FEW YEARS AGO NOW, AND FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE OUTSIDE OF TORONTO, THERE WAS A SERIAL KILLER BY THE NAME OF BRUCE MacARTHUR, AND I GUESS AT SOME POINT IN THE INVESTIGATION, YOU FAMOUSLY SAID, OR INITIALLY SAID, THAT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT THERE WAS A SERIAL KILLER OPERATING IN TORONTO AND THE DISAPPEARANCES OF ALL OF THESE GAY MEN WERE NOT LINKED, AND OF COURSE IT TURNED OUT TO BE QUITE THE OPPOSITE. YOU KNOW, AS YOU LOOK BACK, DO YOU WISH YOU HADN'T SAID THAT?

Saunders says WELL, AGAIN, I WAS FACTUALLY CORRECT WITH WHAT I SAID AT THAT TIME. THE ASPECT THAT SHOWED THE SERIAL ASPECT OF THIS INVESTIGATION WASN'T UNTIL JANUARY. ON THAT DATE WHEN I SAID WHAT I SAID, IT'S BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I WAS TOLD AND THAT'S MY DANG INVESTIGATORS BELIEVED. THESE ARE HIGHLY TRAINED INVESTIGATORS. IT WAS NOT TAKEN LIGHTLY. HOWEVER, AS EVIDENCE CAME IN, AND IT CAME IN IN A FLASH BANG, THINGS CHANGED DRASTICALLY. WHEN I SAY DRASTICALLY, I MEAN LIGHTNING QUICK.

Steve says CHIEF, WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE, AND I GUESS MY LAST QUESTION FOR YOU WOULD BE: YOUR SUCCESSOR. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HIM OR HER FOR HOW TO DO THIS JOB WELL?

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Saunders says I SPOKE ON IT EARLIER, WHICH IS BUILDING THAT PUBLIC TRUST, WHICH IS A LOT EASIER SAID THAN DO. TODAY'S ENVIRONMENTS ARE VERY SAVVY, AND THEY WANT THAT COMPASSION. I'VE INVESTED IN TRAINING TO MAKE SURE WE ARE AS BEST AS WE POSSIBLY CAN UNDER EVERY GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCE. BUT YOU'VE GOT TO BE AWAY FROM YOUR DESK, YOU'VE GOT TO BE OUT THERE, YOU HAVE TO BE OUT IN THE TORONTO. YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND TORONTO. IF YOU'RE GOING TO COME IN AND OPEN A PLAYBOOK ON TORONTO OTHER THAN VISITING, I THINK THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE A PROBLEM WITH THAT. SO THE CITY IS THE MOST DIVERSE IN THE WORLD FOR A REASON, BUT IS ALSO ONE OF THE MOST COMPASSIONATE IN THE WORLD, AND SO I WAS GLAD TO HAVE HAD THE HONOUR OF SERVING THE CITY FOR THE NEXT 36 SLEEPS.

Steve says 36 SLEEPS TO GO. CHIEF SAUNDERS, WE'RE REALLY GRATEFUL THAT YOU WOULD TAKE SO MUCH TIME OUT OF YOUR SCHEDULE TO BE HERE WITH US ON TVO TONIGHT AND TAKE OUR QUESTIONS AND WE WISH YOU WELL WITH WHATEVER COMES NEXT AFTER THE END OF JULY. THANKS SO MUCH, SIR.

Saunders says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Mark Saunders: Toronto's Police Chief Leaves His Post