Ron Taverner withdraws from consideration to become OPP's next boss

TORONTO -- Ron Taverner says he is withdrawing from consideration to be the next commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, citing the need to protect the integrity of front-line officers.

The 72-year-old Toronto police superintendent said in a statement Wednesday evening that he will not take on the role given the controversy surrounding his appointment late last year.

Taverner is a family friend of Premier Doug Ford, and his appointment set off accusations of political interference in the hiring process for the province's top policing job.

"This decision is not an easy one for me to make," Taverner said. "I believe the OPP requires new leadership and a change in culture at its most senior levels. The thousands of men and women who make up the front lines of the OPP deserve leadership that will put their concerns and well-being at the forefront of decision-making."

Ford thanked Taverner for putting his name forward in a statement of his own , saying his "50 years of policing experience and support for the front-lines would have been a tremendous asset to the OPP and to the people of Ontario."

Ford also lashed out at opposition parties who have been pressuring him for months to dump Taverner and re-start the hiring process.

"It is very unfortunate that the opposition has chosen to politicize this process rather than focusing on how we can support our front-line officers," he said.

Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones said Interim Commissioner Gary Couture will remain in the position.

"We will have more to say about the role of the Commissioner in the near future," Jones said in a statement.

In December, Taverner rescinded his resignation from Toronto police and returned to his old job as unit commander of three divisions in the city's northwest end.

At that time, Taverner requested his appointment to the OPP's top job be delayed until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process was complete.