Thursday, March 28, 1991


p. A30.

Eng's challenge at police board

In selecting Susan Eng as the new chairperson of the Metro Police Services Board, Premier Bob Rae has made a provocative and challenging choice.

Eng has been on the board for two years and has advocated radical changes resisted by police and the board. So it was not surprising that when word filtered out about her pending appointment, some police officials and Metro mayors questioned the wisdom of giving the job to someone who has played such an adversarial role.

Scarborough's Joyce Trimmer called her "too antagonistic." North York's Mel Lastman labelled her "anti-cop." Outgoing board chairperson June Rowlands accused her of "poor judgement."

Eng now has a chance to prove them wrong. But it was totally inappropriate for Detective Staff Superintendent Charles Maywood to muse publicly that officers are "not going to give it their all" if she got the job.

It was also improper of Maywood and police union head Art Lymer to doubt that Eng, a Chinese Canadian who was born and educated in Toronto, could represent the entire community.

Clearly, Eng's appointment signals an end to the cozy cheerleading role the police board has played until now. Although she's controversial, she does have strengths. She will be the first member of a visible minority to head a police force that has not had a good relationship with minorities -- the fastest segment of our population.

She has an insider knowledge of the personalities and the challenges, facing the force. At this time of economic restraint, her legal training as a tax lawyer will come in handy. As chairperson, Eng will have the most success if she is candid and straightforward in her dealings with both her supporters and critics.

She will have to ease resentment and win the respect and confidence of the force -- from the chief down to the cop on the beat. And as any good manager and leader, she will have to nudge them willingly toward change.

Eng will also have to forge working relationships with board members who have a different vision from hers. She will have to create a consensus for needed reforms. At the same time, it will be up to her critics on the board and on the force to respect the Premier's appointment and not try to sabotage Eng from within. It's time to close the ranks and get on with the job.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: April 26, 1998
Last modified: February 15, 1999

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