Deputy Chief Steve Williams named London's new police chief, June 5, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Williams named new police chief

One of London’s deputy chiefs of police is getting a promotion.

Steve Williams was announced as the city’s new top cop at a news conference Wednesday at London police headquarters. Wiliams will take over for current Chief of Police John Pare, who is retiring after 33 years in policing later this month. Pare’s last day on the job will be June 19.

“It is quite humbling. It is quite honestly a position I never thought I would find myself in, at least when I started my career. But it is exciting at the same time,” said Williams. “It is going to be a challenge, but I am confident with the leadership team that is being put together we can do great things and address the challenges.”

Williams, a 27-year member of the London Police Service, has served as deputy chief since 2015. Prior to that, he worked in several different areas of the force, including Patrol Operations, Major Crime, Professional Standards, and Human Resources. According to a statement from the London Police Services Board, he has been given several commendations for drug and homicide investigations. In 2010, he received the Award of Merit from the Ontario Homicide Investigators Association.

While Williams plans to lay out his vision for the force at a later date, he stated modernization, progressiveness, and member care are subjects he has “firm ideas” on.

His community priorities centre around those struggling on the streets of London from a wide range of issues.

“We have some serious challenges in the City of London right now. Public health challenges with the opioid epidemic, we have a homeless population, poverty, and mental illness. All of the above work together and create a significant workload for the police,” said Williams. “There is the human factor as well, there’s people suffering on the streets. So we want to work together with our community partners, whether that is London Cares, the Salvation Army, the shelters, whomever…That is a big priority in terms of the day-to-day policing and what our officers are doing on the street.”

The London Police Services Board began the search for a new police chief in January following Pare’s retirement announcement. They conducted a public survey to see what qualities members of the community wanted in a chief and hired a recruitment firm to open the search up to external candidates nationwide. Over a dozen qualified individuals applied for the position, said Susan Toth, chair of the hiring committee.

“From the beginning [Williams] really did stand out,” said Toth. “He is someone who comes from both a lot of experience in policing, but as well as that academic, evidence-based policing side. Excellent written skills. We have come to know Deputy Chief Williams in his role as deputy chief and to see him through that interview process where we are really spending a lot of one-on-one time with him and getting to know him in that different capacity was really enlightening for us.”

The last four police chiefs have been promoted from within the London Police Service and the board’s decision to continue with that tradition was applauded by the president of the London Police Association.

“This is good news for the members. It will be a very positive and well-received message,” said Dave Gilmore. “Chief Williams is very highly respected within the organization and so is Deputy Chief Trish McIntyre. It’s good for morale not to move outside (the organization) when you don’t need change.

McIntyre was appointed to the role of acting deputy police chief by the board on Monday. She is the first woman to hold the position. The 20-year veteran of the force replaces Deputy Chief Daryl Longworth, who will be leaving London to become the Chief of Police in Woodstock in the fall.