Ronald Taverner, current Toronto police superintendent, has been named the new commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

The announcement was made in a news release issued by Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones on Thursday evening.

Taverner, who is currently unit commander of 12, 23 and 31 Divisions with the Toronto Police Service, will assume the role on Dec. 17. He has been working in policing since 1967, and has spent time in units such as intelligence and organized crime enforcement.

“I’m very pleased to appoint Ron Taverner as OPP Commissioner,” Jones said in the news release. “He is a relationship builder and I’m certain he will have a positive impact on policing across Ontario.”

“With over 50 years’ experience, Ron brings the support of front-line officers, community leaders and our respected law enforcement professionals. We will be well served by an officer who has dedicated his life to making our communities a safer place to live.”

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Taverner leaves behind “a legacy so rich in community service.”

“He will be missed by members of the service and citizens of Toronto,” Saunders said. “I wish him every success as he begins a new chapter with the Ontario Provincial Police.”

Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, said Taverner is a “huge asset for the people of Ontario.”

“I can’t think of a more qualified and dedicated leader for the job,” he said. “He’s been a strong advocate for the community and our city. The OPP’s gain is Toronto’s loss.”

Former OPP commissioner and current public safety analyst with CTV News Chris Lewis said he is “absolutely shocked” by the appointment.

“I know Ron. I consider him a friend. He’s a nice guy to have a beer with but he’s a superintendent in a division of Toronto that we’ve got detachments that are bigger than that division in the OPP. He’s a well experienced – 50 years on the job. I think it’s a real kick to the OPP and the senior officers in that organization that know this province and know their organization and they pick somebody from the outside with very limited experience."

Taverner will serve in the position for up to three years.