Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders faced some tough question about officer working conditions as he was confronted by protesters outside police headquarters on College Street Monday afternoon.
Jelena Leung, the wife of a Toronto officer, said she’s seen the impact officer shortages have on families first hand and that right now, she feels like a single mom.
She said she felt it was her duty to bring other families together to really show the chief how big of an impact it’s having.
“I’ve been feeling the officer shortages on the front line for quite some time now, especially in my own home, and, as of recent, it’s been coming to a head with all of the officers coming forward and the chief saying the staff is his priority, their priority, and yet nothing’s changing. Officer shortages are still happening,” Leung said.
Chief Saunders, who is currently facing a non-confidence vote from the police membership, came out to take a look at the protest. That’s when Leung came forward to speak with the chief one-on one about officer safety.
“I’m here today because my husband’s life is at risk every time he goes to work. I see the state he comes home in every day. I see the state he goes into work. If you’re telling me that’s not an officer safety concern, that that’s not a public safety concern, I’m not sure who you’re listening to,” she told the chief.
Watch the full exchange below.
Saunders stressed that officer safety has always been one of his concerns and that he feels strategic hiring is “critical.”
“Officer safety is something that has always been a concern of mine. Those that have worked for me or with me would know that. It’s never been an issue of whether or not I care. I always have and I always will care,” Saunders said.
“But, as we go forward with modernizing our police service there’s so many things that we have to do.”
Saunders agreed to meet with Leung at a later date to discuss the concerns in more detail and to discuss the direction the police service is moving in and why.