Growing up in the city, Jim Hart’s parents always reminded him to respect Toronto Police officers.
Though he has always had that respect for police officers as a citizen and later in public service himself, it was not until he sat on the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) as Vice-Chair in 2018 and then Chair a year later did he get a full grasp of the role officers play everyday in the safety of the city.
“You only know what you read and see in newspapers and on television,” said Hart, who retired as Chair on November 14. “Unfortunately, you never get to hear all the great stories about the Service. When I got on the Board, I got to see what Service members do daily. I got to see their compassion and heroism that is mind-boggling. I just wish every Torontonian had the chance to have the opportunity I had to really learn what this organization does because most of those stories will never make the news.”
Working with the Board office staff and Chief James Ramer, Hart pointed out, are among the highlights of his tenure as Board Chair.
“They are just a wonderful staff and I have enjoyed each and every day I have been with them,” said Hart, a former City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation General Manager. “The Chief is a fine gentleman in every respect and very exceptional in his role. He is well-liked by members of the organization and the community.”
Ramer thanked Hart and former Board member Marie Moliner for their warm welcome when he was appointed Chief.
“What that reaffirmed for me immediately is the importance of police governance and oversight in policing and the importance of it,” he said. “I appreciated your wisdom, counsel and, in particular, your friendship.”
Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Vice Chair Frances Nunziata worked alongside Hart for the entirety of his three-year term.
“I have had the opportunity to see first-hand his excellent professional and balanced leadership style and the impact it has had on police governance and policing in this city,” she said. “Under Chair Hart, we have seen enhanced accountability and transparency for policing in Toronto. He has worked hard to ensure that we hear from all members of Toronto’s communities, those who support our decisions along with those who do not, treating everyone with respect, courtesy and dignity.”
Mayor John Tory, who is also a TPSB member, also paid tribute Hart.
“You are a person of extreme balance and complete integrity,” he told the retiring Chair. “I never had to worry about your reasons for making decisions and when you have had any doubts in your mind, you would canvas the Board members. I think that is the true mark of a great leader.”
TPSB Executive Director & Chief of Staff Ryan Teschner said Hart will be missed.
“For those of us who have been lucky to work with Jim, we have been struck by his admirable work ethic, his progressive and visionary leadership and his good-natured attitude,” he said. “He has continuously demonstrated a deep and sincere appreciation for the work of the Service’s members, the members of the Board and the members of our team in the Board office. The mark of any good leader is seen as much in the team they have around them. I can say sincerely that as a professional doing work that I am passionate about, Jim has always allowed me to go for it. My team and I have felt supported to be bold, to try new things and we always knew Jim had our back.”
Teschner said Hart’s legacy is lasting.
“It will never erode,” he added. “Through his lifetime of public service and service to Toronto Police and the Board, through his honest and genuine commitment to doing what is right and best for the people of the organization, he has led, worked with and for through his deep love of this city and all of its people for all of these reasons. His legacy will endure and his valuable contributions will enrich this organization and the city for all the years to come.”