The OACP at 70The Founders, the Builders, the Innovators and the LeadersBy Mike Sale, Resident Historian, Ontario Association of Chiefs of PoliceIn 1987, without any previous qualifications or experience, I was appointed to serve as the Metropolitan Toronto Police’s coordinator for the 1987 Annual Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Part of my assignment was to visit other IACP Conference cities to establish a rapport with their event planners and to gain as much information as possible to ensure that the first IACP Conference to be held outside the United States since 1961 (Montreal) would be uniquely Canadian and unforgettable.And so there I was, in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 1986, standing in the “Canadian line” in the registration area of the world’s largest annual conference for law enforcement professionals. Nashville was an attractive destination, and the Canadian delegation was unusually large that year, so our special line was moving slowly. I found myself in the company of Greg Cohoon, Chief of Police of the Moncton Police.Before beginning his 24-year career as Chief of Police in Moncton, NB, Chief Cohoon had earned himself a national reputation during his 20 years as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His adventures in police leadership would include actively participating in the New Brunswick and Atlantic Associations of Chiefs of Police, being a national presence as an executive member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and proudly representing the “Dominion of Canada” as a member of the IACP.To this day, I cannot recall what we talked about while standing in line together. Still, I must have mentioned the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), prompting Chief Cohoon to immediately respond with, “OACP is the vanguard of Canadian policing.” That’s the only detail of the conversation I remember. Over the years, I have repeated that phrase again and again, and after that day, I began to look for examples of why a Chief of Police in Atlantic Canada would be saying something so profound about our police chiefs’ association in Ontario. For me, there was only one word to explain this: “reputation.” Since its creation in 1951, the OACP has earned an international reputation for excellence in police leadership – and that’s worth celebrating.At the time, I did not realize that upon my return to Toronto from Nashville, I would begin my 35-year relationship with OACP, but that’s another story.In 2011–2012, the OACP observed its 60th anniversary with several activities, which included research into the backgrounds of every past OACP president and the development of a living poster featuring portraits of every president since the association was established. In 2022, we are doing it again, celebrating 70 years of police leadership in Ontario while observing the many ways the OACP has continued to adapt, how it supports and advocates for community safety and well-being and police professionalism.With the creation of a new 70th anniversary poster, we sought to highlight OACP members who represent all those who have contributed to the professional growth and services of the association. As we assembled the poster, we noticed four distinct groups: founders, builders, innovators, and today’s leaders. The poster is reproduced here, with a brief backgrounder on who and what these images represent:Founders, Builders, Innovators, Leaders Over the past 70 years, the OACP has evolved to become one of Canada’s most recognized groups of law enforcement executives and public safety specialists. On the occasion of OACP’s 70th anniversary, this poster was created to recall, at a glance, some of the founders, builders, innovators, and leaders of today who represent all those who have contributed to our success.Founders Chief Constable Clare Bagnal of Chatham Police, was a founding member and the first President of the Chief Constables’ Association of Ontario (CCAO); the only president to serve for a period of two years, 1951-1953.Chief Constable John Patrick of Kitchener Police, was a founding member of the CCAO, serving as President from 1958 to 1959. He was the host of the first CCAO Annual Conference in Kitchener, 1952.Chief Constable A. Earl Knight, London Police, was a founding member of the CCAO and the first officer to be appointed Chairman of the Training Committee. He served as President from 1962 to 1963 and became the first Deputy Director of the new Ontario Police College.Chief Constable Leonard G. Lawrence, Hamilton Police, was a founding member of the CCAO and served as President from 1957 to 1958. In 1967, he was appointed President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the last Canadian to hold that post.Builders Chief James Torrance of Sarnia Police, served as OACP President from 1966 to 1967. In 1965, Chief Torrance recommended the name of the association be made more modern by becoming the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.Deputy Commissioner James Erskine, Ontario Provincial Police, was the first and only member of the OPP to serve as President of the OACP, from 1978 to 1979.Deputy Chief Clark Lane of Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police, was the first of three Deputy Chiefs of Police to hold office as President of OACP.Chief Donald Hillock of York Regional Police, served as OACP president from 1991 to 1992 and as host for the 1992 Annual Conference. Chief Hillock was the founding chairman of the OACP Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in 1987.For nearly a decade, the Chief Constables’ Association of Ontario advocated with the Ministry of the Attorney General to establish a police training academy, resulting in the establishment of the Ontario Police College near Aylmer, in 1962. In 1977, after massive renovations, a new Ontario Police College was opened. It stands today as one of the proudest achievements in the history of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.Innovators At the 1992 Annual Conference, William Malpass was appointed the first Executive Director of OACP, with a full-time office operating in Sault Ste. Marie.In 2003, the composition of the OACP Board of Directors was expanded to include a representative from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Assistant Commissioner Freeman Sheppard, Commanding Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police “O” Division, was the first to serve on the Board in this position.Jose Luis (Joe) Couto was appointed OACP Director of Government Relations and Communications in 2004. One of his first tasks included setting up a Toronto office at 40 College Street and launching the association’s new publication, H.Q. Magazine. In 2004, the composition of the OACP Board of Directors was further expanded to include a representative of indigenous police services in Ontario. Chief Glenn Lickers, of Six Nations Police, was the first to serve on the Board in this position.At the 2005 Annual Conference, Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon of Ontario Provincial Police received the first President’s Award of Merit for his long-standing support and contributions to OACP, including a productive term as Chairman of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.Leaders From 2014 to 2015, Chief Jennifer Evans of Peel Regional Police served as the first female OACP President.From 2017 to 2018, Chief Bryan Larkin of the Waterloo Regional Police Service served as the OACP President. In 2021, Chief Larkin became the 10th officer to have served as President of both OACP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP).From 2018 to 2019, Chief Kimberley Greenwood of the Barrie Police Department served as the OACP President.From 2020 to 2021, Chief Antje McNeely, Kingston Police, served as OACP President.From 2021 to 2022, Chief Gary Conn of the Chatham-Kent Police Service assumed the role of OACP president 70 years after Chief Clare Bagnall of Chatham Police helped found the organization.In June 2022, Chief Nishan Duraiappah of Peel Regional Police became OACP President on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary celebrations in Niagara-on-the-Lake.The promise of OACP, as imagined and conceived by its founders, builders and innovators, is to be the voice of today’s – and tomorrow’s – police leaders.On Monday, April 11, 2022, I found Greg Cohoon in my CACP Directory and called him at his home in Moncton, New Brunswick. He will have turned 85 by the time this story goes to print. Most of his peers have passed on, but Chief Cohoon is as sharp as he was when he was investigating murders for the RCMP, even though a bad back has slowed him down and he now moves around with the aid of a walker.I told Chief Cohoon that I was going to mention his name in this story. He laughed and filled an hour with tales about Ontario police leaders with whom he had worked over 24 years as Chief of Police in Moncton. It was obvious to me that he still regards OACP as the vanguard of Canadian policing. That’s a reputation worth keeping.Michael Sale was a member of the (Metropolitan) Toronto Police for more than 30 years, retiring as an Inspector in 2002. He has since served as a historian with the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. He can be reached at


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