Blackmail?

Police oversight review, transformational task force report and new carding regulations will bring changes, says Chief Mark Saunders

For 15 days, protestors camped outside Toronto police headquarters seeking justice for Andrew Loku, demanding the name of the officer who killed him, and calling for change from the chief whose office overlooked the “tent city” below.

Not yet a year as top cop of Canada’s largest municipal police service, chief Mark Saunders faced in March a prolonged showdown with Black Lives Matter Toronto — a group that would make a significant mark on Saunders’ 2016.

The chief was criticized for refusing to meet with Black Lives Matter during their camp out, which sprung after Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared the unnamed officer who killed Loku in the high-profile 2015 police shooting.

Three months later, in a move that made national headlines, the group halted Toronto’s Pride parade, demanding police be banned from future Pride events.

And throughout 2016, Black Lives Matter continued to criticize the actions of Saunders, his force and the police board — including the move to retain personal information obtained through carding — and protest against “broken” police watchdogs, including the SIU.

Indeed, a province-wide review of police oversight announced in the wake of the Loku controversy is among the reasons 2017 could be a year of substantial change for Toronto police.

In a wide-ranging year-end interview with the Star, Toronto’s first black police chief said he can understand the group’s aims even if he doesn’t agree with their tactics.

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