SMCS Grad Settling in as Toronto’s New Chief of Police
From the cozy confines of the yellow brick halls of St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) to the top of Toronto Police Service headquarters, Myron Demkiw ’85 was recently appointed Chief of Police of the fourth largest municipal police service in North America, with 7,500 members.
The 30-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service had most recently served as Deputy Chief, Specialized Operations Command, where he oversaw 1,200 police officers and 900 civilian members.
Building Trust in a New Role
“I wake up looking forward to every day as Chief,” says Demkiw, a graduate of the University of Toronto. “I have the opportunity to meet with members of the public and to hear directly from them about their lived experiences and expectations of the police. I would say that one of the things I am most focused on is strengthening our relationships with the many diverse communities across the city.”
He adds, “One of the commitments I have made, and that I am optimistic about pursuing, is to bring a public health approach to addressing the needs of community members who have been victimized by gun violence, as well as those dealing with addiction and mental health challenges, which may bring them in to contact with the police. This requires collaboration and partnership as it is extremely complex, so we are working with the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health and community partners to engage in this important work.”
Officially sworn into the role in December 2022, Demkiw says his top three priorities include: improving trust within the Toronto Police Service, accelerating police reform and professionalization, and supporting safer communities.
“It is well known that the last few years have been a challenging period for law enforcement, where trust of the police has been broken in some ways,” he says. “This is both understandable and unfortunate. We can only police successfully with the consent and trust of the community. And this is why as Chief, I continue to support an ambitious and public agenda of police reform in Toronto. We are working every day to earn and to rebuild the trust of our communities, and we never lose sight of the work we have to do in that area.”
The Impact of SMCS
Demkiw attended St. Josaphat Catholic School before coming to SMCS.
“What has always stayed with me is the incredible commitment of the St. Mike’s faculty to nurture student success,” he says. “Exceptionally memorable for me was Fr. Zinger who led my Grade 10 homeroom religious studies and who instilled in me an appreciation for classical music.”
The late Fr. Cecil Zinger, CSB, OSM, was a priest, teacher, coach, and spiritual advisor at SMCS who inspired many students, staff, and alumni during his life.
“I am very proud to be a St. Michael’s man. In many ways, the school helped prepare me to have the career in policing that I have had and for the role of Chief of Police today,” says Demkiw. “I have often reflected on the school motto Doce me Bonitatem et Disiplinam et Scientiam – Teach me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge. This has guided me in my quest and commitment to self-improvement, continued education, and development. Pursuing these virtues while always treating people with kindness and respect has guided me in my personal and professional life.”
While Demkiw remains in touch with a small group of peers from his alma mater, he also strives to stay connected to his graduating class through social media when possible.
“Time tends to lead us all to new paths and different relationships, and while I have maintained that connection with a small group of fellow students, I can say that many times over the years when I have met a St. Michael’s man, we immediately shared a familiarity and acknowledgement of a shared lived experience that remains very important to us,” he says.
Demkiw offers these words of advice for current students: “Please remember the motto and stay true to the values you have learned while attending St. Michaels. This will serve you well, particularly during times of uncertainty. Look after yourselves and each other, and know that being a member of the St. Mike’s community is a special thing that will always be with you.”
“I would like to congratulate those graduating this year. I wish you all the greatest of success, health, and happiness in your next chapter. I would also like to wish all teachers, staff, and the rest of the students a great and safe summer in our amazing city. Hoikety Choik on C!”