NEWS
04/20/2015 10:03 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 01:12 EDT

Mark Saunders named Toronto's top cop, the force's 1st black leader

TORONTO - Toronto has its first black chief of police.Mark Saunders is a 32-year veteran of the force.He takes over from Bill Blair, whose contract was not renewed after a decade on the job.Saunders takes over at a time of tension over the police practice of "carding" — stopping people on the street for questioning.Visible minorities — specifically black youth — have complained they are targeted for the stops.Saunders will also feel pressure to rein in a budget of more than $1 billion.Saunders, who is the current deputy chief, is currently in charge of Specialized Operations Command where he oversees 1,200 police officers and 154 civilian members.He is the co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Organized Crime Committee and, according to the TPS website, participates as a mentor for the Black Community Consultative Committee.He is also the TPS’s executive sponsor of the Toronto Pan Am/Parapan American Games, responsible for safety and security, and he's credited with establishing the Toronto police department's cybercrime unit.Saunders had been considered one of two frontrunners for the job of Toronto's top cop.