Former ABLE presidents receive significant promotions
There is a common misconception among some Black law enforcement professionals that supporting the Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) could hinder advancement in their organizations.
Nothing could be further from the truth as two former ABLE presidents received significant promotions last week.
Founding president, David Mitchell, is the Youth Justice Services Division new assistant deputy minister while York Regional Police Service (YRPS) officer, Keith Merith, was elevated to superintendent.
“These are two of our most ardent and supportive members and we are extremely proud of them,” said ABLE president, Kenton Chance. “They have been instrumental in ensuring that ABLE promote and protect the interests of Blacks and other racial minorities in the profession in addition to working closely with law enforcement agencies to stimulate and facilitate employment equity programs.”
Mitchell started his career with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services 26 years ago as a correctional officer.
“The promotion demonstrates to racialized people in the public service that hard work over time and speaking out on principled issues as they relate to diversity are not barriers to progress,” he said.
In his new role, Mitchell has provincial oversight and responsibility for youths between the ages of 12 and 17 on probation and in open and secure custody facilities. He will also participate in and support preventative programs.
Born in England, the former Toronto Community Housing chair was brought to Canada by his family in 1969 at the age of three. He worked with the former City of North York Parks & Recreation Community Services Division as a program coordinator and assistant community centre coordinator and served as the first Youth Sub-Committee chair of the North York Secondary School Principals’ Advisory Council before pursuing a law enforcement career in 1990.
After completing his training, Mitchell spent 18 months as a general duty officer at the Toronto Jail before being dispatched to the Admitting and Discharge Unit. He was promoted to acting sergeant in 1994 and a few months later he was assigned to the Anti-Racism Unit where he was responsible for assisting in the implementation of recommendations made in the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System report.
He also held the ranks of captain and acting deputy superintendent at the Toronto Jail and deputy superintendent in charge of operations at the Toronto East Detention Centre.
After serving for two years as the founding manager of a guns and gangs unit in the Ministry’s Institutional Services, Mitchell was the Mimico Correctional Centre superintendent up until 2011 when he was promoted to Community Services Area Manager for Scarborough and then Central Region director.
As one of ABLE’s seven co-founders, Mitchell – who is the Council on Unity & Racial Justice executive lead and the Advisory Committee for Humber College Justice Studies program chair – has consistently advocated for positive changes and initiatives in law enforcement that will benefit a multicultural and multi-racial society.
Like Mitchell, Merith – an ABLE member since 2003 – was born in England to Jamaican parents.
Migrating in 1968 at age 10, he joined YRPS three decades ago after spending five years as a child care worker and two years as a correctional officer at Maplehurst Complex.
“For me, this promotion is extremely meaningful because only a handful of people of my colour have made it to this level in policing in Canada,” said Merith. “I am now able to sit at the decision table and in some way influence the direction of our police service and other Black and visible minority officers, I hope, will realize there are opportunities for advancement based on merit and determination.”
Beginning his police career as a constable assigned to uniform patrol in 1 District (Newmarket), Merith served in the morality bureau, provincial weapons enforcement unit, 5 District criminal investigations bureau and the training and education division.
As a staff sergeant, he was assigned to 4 District (Vaughan) before being promoted to inspector in 2009.
A graduate of West Humber Collegiate Institute, the University of Guelph with a degree in criminal justice studies and the Rotman School of Management police leadership program, Merith is now in charge of his Service’s court and information services.
He is the second YRPS officer with Caribbean roots to be promoted to superintendent, following Trinidad & Tobago-born Robertson Rouse who was elevated in 2008.
Merith was in the same class at the Ontario Police College with Sonia Thomas who became the first Black female Toronto Police Service (TPS) inspector five years ago and Peel region officer, Ingrid Berkeley-Brown who was promoted to superintendent last January, making her the highest-ranking Black female police officer in Canada.
Other high-profile ABLE members promoted to senior management positions include the province’s second Black deputy minister and Ontario Provincial Police deputy chief, Jay Hope and former TPS deputy chiefs Keith Forde and Peter Sloly who are all retired, and Correctional Service of Canada member, Jacqueline Edwards who is the acting assistant warden, Management Services, at Millhaven Institution.