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Toronto's Police Chief Bill Blair (centre right) is applauded by committee members at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting at Police Headquarters on Thursday August 14, 2014. (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

Toronto's Police Chief Bill Blair (centre right) is applauded by committee members at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting at Police Headquarters on Thursday August 14, 2014.

(Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

Toronto police board hopes to name new chief in January Add to ...

The Toronto Police Services board has officially begun its search for a new police chief, and hopes to announce a replacement for Chief Bill Blair by January of next year.

The police board, a civilian body which oversees the Toronto Police Service, published a notice on Monday looking for a recruitment firm to assist in the hiring of a new police chief for Canada’s largest municipal police force. The notice says that the board plans to complete interviews in December of this year, and announce a new chief by January 5, 2015 – two months after a new council and, possibly, a new mayor, are elected.

This quiets speculation that the current board, in denying Chief Blair a third term, was hoping to quickly make its own pick for a new chief. The October municipal election will end the term of the three councillors on the board (Mike Del Grande, Michael Thompson and Frances Nunziata), while a fourth council-appointed spot (Andy Pringle), will also be up for renewal. Alok Mukherjee’s position as chair will be up for a vote in January, while his term on the board – along with the other two provincial appointees – ends in 2016.

“The successful executive search firm will have solid understanding of the complexities involved in policing Toronto, global issues that may impact upon policing in Toronto and the importance of finding a Chief of Police who has the knowledge required to deal with the various issues and challenges currently facing the city,” the request for proposals says.

It also offers some insight into what the board is looking for in a replacement for Chief Blair – most notably, a willingness to control costs on a nearly $1-billion budget, and focus on “organizational change.”

“These issues and challenges include the cost and sustainability of policing services, diversity and equity within the police service and providing service to the community, ensuring that community contacts are handled fairly and professionally and dealing with individuals experiencing mental illness,” it says.

Mr. Mukherjee has publicly stated that one of the main reasons for denying Chief Blair a third term after his contract expires in April is because he and the board could not agree on how to control policing costs.

Mayor Rob Ford has also waded into the debate, telling reporters earlier this month that he expects the chief’s replacement to be able to find five per cent in “efficiencies.”

“I don’t care – male, female. I need someone there who can find the efficiencies,” Mr. Ford said.

The chair has also spoken publicly about the need for “fundamental transformation,” and has said that the search for a new chief will include consideration of international candidates.

“The successful executive search firm will also have an appreciation for the Board’s focus on organizational change and renewal, including structural and cultural transformation,” the RFP says.

The recruitment contract, worth up to $115,000, is open to bidders across the country, and closes Sept. 10.

The process will also include “public consultation,” though the dates on when that is expected to happen have not yet been determined.

This consultation, according to Mr. Mukherjee in a police board meeting last week, will “include the residents of the city, service members, our political leaders, community leaders, business leaders and youth.”

The timeline of searching for a new chief also opens the door to the possibility of Chief Blair putting his name in the hat again – despite his request for a contract extension renewal being denied just a few weeks ago by the current board.

When asked last week whether he would consider doing so, Chief Blair said it wasn’t an option he was actively considering, but didn’t rule out the possibility, either.

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