Meet the new chief

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NEWS / Young, handsome & not Fantino

James Dubro / Toronto Xtra / Thursday, April 14, 2005

Toronto's newly appointed police chief Bill Blair is, at 50, the city's youngest chief ever. He's also considered to be the most knowledgeable of Toronto's lesbian and gay community. Here's a cheat sheet (not that we condone cheating) to Blair's career.

  • Six feet five inches tall; married with three children
  • Comes from a family of policemen; Blair joined the force in 1976 at the age of 22
  • Started out as a constable in 51 Division, which was then known for its brutality, corruption and toughness. Later, in 1995, he came back to this division as its superintendent and is credited for cleaning it up
  • Has worked undercover, then as a staff sergeant, in the drug unit
  • Worked in 52 Division when it was responsible for the gay village
  • In late 1999 Blair became one of three senior officers to apply for the police chief job. His candidacy was endorsed by the Toronto Star, but conservative insiders who then controlled the province orchestrated the process to bring in former London, then York Region police chief Julian Fantino
  • In January 2000 Blair, as commander for the Community Policing Support Unit, accompanied Fantino to his baptism of fire in the gay and lesbian community at a crowded and rowdy public meeting
  • In June 2000, Blair acts as middleman to arrange a special (and tense) meeting between Fantino and critics of Fantino's discredited London kiddie porn ring investigation
  • After the Pussy Palace raid in September 2000, Blair became one of the police spokespersons on the raid. In something of an understatement, Blair told Xtra, "I imagine this is going to cause a bit of an upset." In October 2000 he told Xtra the raid was the result of complaints and that he was "quite satisfied that how we came to be there was quite reasonable." Blair also once contended that the organizers of the women's bathhouse night may have arranged to have the place busted for the publicity
  • After it became apparent that the cops had acted inappropriately by sending male officers into the women-only Pussy Palace event, Blair changed his tune, telling Xtra in February 2002, that it would be "prudent and appropriate" to get female officers to do such inspections. Despite his behind-the-scenes work, Blair was unsuccessful in mediating any resolution with the police; the case went to court (the police lost) and Pussy Palace organizers had to thrash out a settlement with the Toronto Police Services Board; Fantino never admitted the raid was an error
  • In January 2001 Blair was promoted to staff superintendent and often accompanied Fantino to the chief's annual Pride cocktail parties
  • Upon his appointment last week, Blair said he was committed to keeping all minority group liaison committees and officers including the elected gay, lesbian and trans group that meets monthly with the cops and the queer community liaison officer position now occupied by openly lesbian Const Jackie O'Keefe
  • Planning to be the first chief to be in Pride parade.
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