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Updated: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:45:37 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Bill Blair: Countdown begins for chief, along with search for successor



Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair listens as former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci (© not pictured)

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair listens as former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci (not pictured) delivers his report on the use of lethal force by Toronto Police during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday, July 24, 2014. Toronto's police services board has decided against renewing the contract of Blair, who has frequently clashed with Mayor Rob Ford. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese The Canadian Press

The clock is ticking for Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, who learned on Wednesday he has been turned down for a contract renewal.

At 60, Blair has spent more than half his life as a Toronto police officer, starting out as a beat officer and gradually climbing the ladder to take its top-ranking job.

But his time as top cop will be officially up as of April 25.

That day, just over nine months from now, will mark the end of his 10 years as the leader of his hometown municipal police force — the largest of its kind in the country.

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee said Wednesday that Blair had served with distinction, but it is time for a change.

He told reporters that "it was the board's conclusion that there was need for renewal and that it was time, after 10 years of very distinguished service by Chief Blair, for us to appoint a new chief."

How the departing chief’s successor will be chosen is still unclear, but Mukherjee has already laid out some of the challenges that he or she will face.

They will include the way that the police interact with the community; the way officers interact with emotionally disturbed persons and the mentally ill; and the need to transform the police service in a way that ensures it is effective and sustainable in the long term.

Mukherjee said it is too soon to provide specifics about how the board will search for and select a new police chief.

It is also not clear if an interim chief would serve before a permanent successor is chosen.

"Obviously, Chief Blair has some decisions to make," said Mukherjee. "I will be having discussions with the chief in the days and weeks to come. There’s plenty of time. Until April, as far as I'm concerned, he's the chief of the city."

The job involves leading a force comprised of thousands of officers and civilian staff. The organization has a $1 billion budget and a history that stretches back 180 years.

Blair was the third permanent chief to lead the Toronto Police Service since the city was amalgamated. He picked up the torch from Julian Fantino, who went on to lead the Ontario Provincial Police and now serves as an MP for Vaughan and the minister of veterans affairs. 

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