For the entirety of the last two decades, the London Police Service has promoted one of its own when a police chief retires.
That changed on Monday.
The Police Services Board held a news conference where it was announced that Thai Truong will be the new Chief of Police in London. He will take over the position on June 1.
"I'm very compassionate, I understand people, I feel things. That speaks to how I've been able to connect with the community," Truong when asked by the media about his leadership style.
The former commander with York Region Police will be the first person of colour to lead the London Police Service.
"As a child of immigrants who came to this country in 1962 by way of ship across the Atlantic Ocean from Lebanon, today marks and important and noteworthy milestone for myself and many other diverse members of the London community," Board Chair Ali Chahbar said. "In a reflection of the changing face of our city and police service, once chief-designate Truong is formally sworn into office, he will make history as the city of London's first ever racially diverse chief of police."
"This represents an important and historic milestone for both the London Police Service and the city as a whole," he added.
However, the choice was seen as a surprise by some.
The last time London Police Service hired somebody from outside its ranks to be chief was when Al Gramolini got the job in 1998.
Since then, Brian Collins (Chief from 2000-2004), Murray Faulkner (2004-2010), Brad Duncan (2010-2015), John Pare (2015-2019) and Steve Williams (2019-2023) have all been hired from within the service.
"We received a whole host of applications, internally, externally, across the province, across the country, we engaged in a very deliberative process," Chahbar said. "There was a discussion and at the end of the day we made the decision that we did. It wasn't internal versus external. It was about the candidate that we felt was appropriate for this position."
Truong on police accountability. pic.twitter.com/9yU1gtM6at— Craig Needles (@NeedlesOnNews) May 1, 2023
Deputy Chief Trish McIntyre - who had been chief on an interim basis since February - was considered by some to be the most likely choice to become the service's permanent chief.
Chahbar, without addressing McIntyre's candidacy specifically, said different board members had different priorities during the search.
"We examined a whole host of different areas. We can compartmentalize it into two or three boxes. In one box, there was a substantive criteria. Resumes, credentials, background skillset," Chahbar said. "Then we looked at a second box. Vision. Leadership. And then there would be the third box, which was a lens that each individual board member brought to that process. Different board members would have weighed [the difference between an internal or external candidate] differently."
Truong has been a police officer for more than 20 years.
According to a media release from London Police Service, he's had many roles in policing including as a commander in all four branches within York Regional Police: Support, Investigations, Administrative and Operations.
"He has extensive investigative and specialized expertise and has been involved in numerous long-term undercover operations across North America. He has also been responsible for leading various units including organized crime and drug enforcement, human trafficking, intimate partner violence, homicide, internet child exploitation and special victims’ units," the release said.
"I am the type of leader that is grateful and honoured to be here. I look forward to working with everyone and meeting everyone. I'm transparent and I can tell you as incoming chief, everything that this organization does for the community that is positive, I will be the first person to thank those individuals," Truong told reporters. "But I will tell you, if and when, we need to be held to account, police make mistakes, we all make mistakes, I will be the first person to take that accountability."
Truong will be sworn in at a later date that has yet to be announced by the board.