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Brief History of the Toronto Police Service

Well over one and a half centuries have passed since the muddy town of “York” was re-named “Toronto” in 1834.

In that year, Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie headed the city with a population of just 9,000 people. That same year, the Toronto Police Force had its humble beginnings when the first full-time High Constable was appointed to lead a handful of volunteers.

There were no permanent officers. Constables were simply hired as needed. It wasn’t until a year later that five paid Constables were hired.

Back then, the focus of police activity was on the business district of Yonge street, from the lakefront all the way north to Dundas Street.

One of the original police responsibilities was catching Yonge Street shopkeepers who threw their garbage on the street!

On January 1, 1957, policing in Toronto entered a new era with the creation of a Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. The new service was born from the roots of 13 separate services in the Toronto area.

Black and white photo of police officers parading down the street

Amalgamation eliminated the artificial policing boundaries across the now sprawling Metro Toronto. A single service also served to standardize police procedures and communications systems. The result was more effective and cost efficient policing.

The word “Force” was eventually replaced with the word “Service” to reflect our approach to policing. The name later changed to Toronto Police Service, when another municipal amalgamation formed the new City of Toronto in 1998.

Today, the Toronto Police Service employs over 5,500 officers and more than 2,200 civilian staff.

The Toronto Police Service is one of the largest municipal police services in North America, responsible for policing a vibrant city of almost 2.6 million, and receiving over 1.7 million calls for service a year.

Though the challenges of policing and the city have changed immeasurably,one thing has remained the same - the dedication with which members serve the citizens of this city.

The confidence we have in the future of our Service is due in a large part to the pride we have in our past.

The Toronto Police Service takes pride in its members both uniformed and civilian.

Policing a diverse community requires sensitivity and understanding. The Service places special emphasis and is dedicated to preventing crime and keeping our city safe.

Our police officers risk their lives every day to protect our community, and value the support that they receive from civilian members.

The Toronto Police Service is proud of the community which they serve and is proud of their great history of policing. Their community policing philosophy is built on innovative and collaborative methods to improve the high quality of life.

Members continue to work hard to keep our city unlike any other.

They are proud to serve all the residents in their community, and truly reflect the Service’s mission statement of “delivering police services in partnership with our communities to keep Toronto the best and safest place to be.”