Mark Saunders

Meet Mark Saunders

Mark Saunders has dedicated his life to serving and protecting the people of Toronto of every ward and every neighbourhood of the city. For 38 years, he served as a police officer and led the Toronto Police Service as its first Black Chief of Police.

For too long, the status quo politicians have failed Torontonians. Mark is ready to bring a new approach to City Hall that is focused on building a safer, more affordable, and livable Toronto.

A Career in Service and Protection

Mark believes public safety is a fundamental human right, and the government’s most basic responsibility is to ensure residents are safe and secure. Every day, he felt the responsibility of putting his life on the line to protect the public and get the bad guys off the streets. While other people ran from danger, Mark ran towards it.

Mark joined the Toronto Police Service right after graduating high school. He worked his way up the ranks, serving in the Intelligence Services for specialized investigations against organized crime, the Professional Standards Unit, the Emergency Task Force responding to high-risk emergency situations, the Community Safety Command, and the Urban Street Gang Unit. He was Unit Commander of the Homicide Squad before attaining the rank of Deputy Chief.

Mark served as the Co-Chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Organized Crime Committee and was responsible for establishing the Toronto Police Service’s cybercrime unit. Mark also participated as a mentor for the Black Community Consultative Committee.

Over his career, Mark received several awards including the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, the Police Exemplary Service Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Harry Jerome Award for Public Service.

Toronto’s Police Chief

In 2015, Mark was selected as Toronto's Chief of Police. As leader of Canada’s largest municipal police force and the third largest police force in the country, Mark was responsible for a team at the Toronto Police Service (TPS) of over 7,400 officers and civilians and managing annual budgets of more than $1 billion.

A record of service
Toronto needs strong leadership. Mark Saunders is a rare candidate that has the experience of running a billion dollar organization with thousands of employees. Toronto needs competent management, not a career politician.
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Throughout his career, Mark showed a passion for fair, impartial and evidence-based policing and it was important for him to ensure no ward or neighbourhood was forgotten or left behind. As Chief, Mark's priority was to modernize policing in Toronto and work with all levels of government to keep people safe.

Mark’s Track Record

  • Worked with all levels of government to secure millions in funding for Project Community Space and the Intensive Firearm Bail Team to fight gun and gang violence.
  • Expanded the Neighbourhood Officer Program where officers are dedicated to a specific geographic area for five years to become a trusted resource for that community.
  • Brought in body-worn cameras for all front-line officers to increase safety, evidence-gathering, transparency and accountability.
  • Expanded Toronto Community Housing's Community Safety Unit by 50 per cent.
  • Created the Connected Officer Program, where officers have mobile, handheld technology, so they can stay out in the community and don't have to return to the office after every call to make a report.
  • Started the Special Constable Program, where unarmed peace officers are trained for non-frontline duties such as helping hold crime scenes, traffic diversion, or escorting a person in crisis to the hospital so that police would be freed up for emergency calls.
  • Created the Engage 416 Program, a gang exit strategy program which provides resources and support for individuals trying to escape gangs and their families.
  • Created the Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program for less serious crimes so youth engaging in crime to support family members would not have a criminal record.
  • Expanded use-of-force options to give all officers less lethal options including tasers and sock guns to reduce the potential of harm and death.
  • Expanded mental health training for officers, including de-escalation training and inviting community members to discuss their lived experiences.

Family and Community

Mark is the son of Jamaican immigrants and one of six siblings. His parents arrived in Canada in 1969 and Mark became a Canadian citizen at the age of 5. Mark's parents instilled in their children the core value that no matter how much or how little you have, you always have something to give your community.

He grew up in Milton, where he had a strong sense of leadership and community instilled from a young age. He attended Milton District High School, where he was elected as student council president and also served as Mayor for a Day.

Organ donation: a cause worth supporting
Mark's wife Stacey gave Mark the gift of life through the donation of her kidney. Mark and Stacey support Green Shirt Day to raise awareness of organ donation and to encourage Toronto residents to fill our their donor cards.
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Mark was born with only one kidney that never functioned very well, but he never let that stop him. When he had to go on dialysis for 15 months in 2016-17, his wife Stacey came forward and was found to be a perfect match for a transplant. The couple continue to share their experience to raise awareness and advocate for the gift of life by encouraging others to register as organ and tissue donors.

Mark and Stacey are the proud parents of four children. Mark, Stacey and their dog Copper live in North York.