Toronto's new Police Chief Mark Saunders is not in favour of abolishing the controversial practice of carding.

Saunders, Toronto's first black chief of police, made the comments Wednesday after delivering a short speech at the African Canadian Summit.

"Abolishing it is not the way in which we are going to say, 'Everything is going to be better,'" he told reporters when asked about the practice.

Carding refers to when police officers stop and question people on the street. In a study conducted by the non-profit group LogicalOutcome last year, it suggested there was "widespread non-compliance" with police carding rules in Toronto's Jane-and-Finch neighbourhood.

The study's findings were later questioned by then-police chief Bill Blair, who said they were based on a "long history of tension" rather than facts.

Earlier on Wednesday, Saunders told the audience that he "knows that African Canadians have a completely different experience living in Canada." He added he wanted to eliminate the idea of "random" police stops, but said change will take time.

"It is not going to happen overnight," he said. "If anyone in here thinks tomorrow is a new day, it is not …. I need your help in order to make this happen."

Saunders' comment Wednesday about carding drew sharp criticisms from community advocates.

"We are disappointed," African Canadian Legal Clinic executive director Margaret Parsons said. "He said in a room full of African Canadian leaders that he was committed to listening and that he was committed to working with our community in addressing the issue of carding. Soon thereafter, he reneged on that in the presence of the media."

Parsons added she didn’t "see the value of carding" and the practice should be ended.

"We are not saying that you can't target individuals who are impacting community safety, but what we are seeing is blanket carding of young African Canadians and that is very problematic."