Longtime deputy chief Peter Yuen is leaving the Toronto Police Service

Longtime deputy chief Peter Yuen is leaving the Toronto Police Service, a departure that comes as Canada’s largest municipal service continues its prolonged search for its next top cop.

The Toronto police board announced Yuen’s retirement in a news release on Monday, saying the 35-year police veteran is stepping down from his role as second in command at the end of the month.

Yuen, who heads the Toronto police community safety command, which oversees all front-line policing across the city, was considered by some police insiders as a contender for the next Toronto police chief.

The search for the city’s next top cop has been on since former chief Mark Saunders announced his early departure from the force in June 2020. Then-deputy chief James Ramer was named by the police board as interim chief, and the arrangement was extended by the Toronto police board last summer, keeping Ramer in the chief’s chair until the end of 2022.

Yuen declined to comment on his departure on Monday.

Chiefs are often plucked from the deputy chief rank when police boards are looking to hire an internal candidate. Yuen’s departure now means all of the deputy chiefs who worked under Saunders — and might have replaced him — have left the police service or taken a secondment, with the exception of Ramer, who took the interim position but said he wouldn’t apply to be permanent chief.

Last year, former Toronto police deputy chief Shawna Coxon took a job as a commissioner in Ireland’s national police force, while deputy chief Barbara McLean accepted a secondment to the Mass Casualty Commission, the inquiry into the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

In its statement, the Toronto police board said Yuen would be replaced by Staff Supt. Kim Yeandle, who will be acting deputy chief. Until the board appoints the next deputy, “a number of senior officers will be given the opportunity to act in this role,” the board statement said.

Since the departures of other deputy chiefs, acting deputy chief Myron Demkiw has been overseeing the force’s special operations command, which includes the force’s investigative squads including homicide.

Asked for an update on the chief hiring process earlier this month, a spokesperson said the Toronto police board is in the executive search phase and that a job call will likely be released “in the coming months.”

In its statement Monday, the Toronto police board thanked Yuen for his service and “vast combined expertise in community policing, criminal investigations and strategic management,” noting he was “extremely proud of his Chinese heritage.”

“Deputy Yuen has worked steadily through the years with Toronto’s communities to create and strengthen partnerships to achieve our shared goals and has served as an invaluable mentor to many members of our service,” Toronto police board chair Jim Hart said.

In an internal message, Ramer congratulated Yuen on his retirement, noting his recent work included leading the force’s work on race-based data collection, which he called “critical and groundbreaking work.”

“Deputy Yuen is recognized for his leadership in improving trust and building relationships between the Toronto Police Service and the diverse communities we serve across the city,” Ramer said.


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