One of the places I least expected to find myself was on the Toronto Police Services Board. It has been and continues to be an intense learning opportunity. With over 7000 staff members including both police and civilians, it is the largest municipal police force in one of the most diverse and complex cities in Canada.
The police put themselves out there every day, often in dangerous situations and for that, we are deeply grateful for the risk they take on for the protection of our city. During my time on the police board, I have been impressed with the commitment to open data, open budgeting, and ongoing work towards not just modernization, but also facilitating the empowerment of police alternatives such as the Toronto Community Crisis Service which is a community-based, client-centred, trauma-informed response to non-emergency crisis calls and wellness checks.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet Chief Myron Demkiw for lunch along with board staff. One of his key values shared during his swearing in speech was “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The meeting was an opportunity to get to know him more as he plays a pivotal role as the leader of our entire police force. He is fiercely loyal to the force, works almost every day and is trying to build a more modern police force. He is also a big fan of Brene Brown.
During my conversation with him, I could see he places a high value on fostering trust and building relationships. He spends a lot of time visiting different divisions and listening to community members. I saw this value in action at the Chief's and TPS Board Pride reception. This 2SLGBTQ+ community celebration happened because of his dedication to listening and building bridges.
Chief Demkiw has committed to visiting one of our future NeighbourLink North York Welcome Tea events. As a Ukrainian, he was touched to hear about the support that has been provided by Willowdalers.