UofGH's Dr. Shawna Coxon named Toronto Police Service Deputy Chief

Dr. Shawna Coxon smiles for the camera
Photo courtesy of Dr. Shawna Coxon

University of Guelph-Humber sessional instructor Dr. Shawna Coxon has been named one of three new Deputy Chiefs in the Toronto Police Service.

Dr. Coxon’s appointment to the prestigious post was major news in Toronto. With 21 years of policing experience and 11 years spent guiding students in UofGH’s Justice Studies program, Dr. Coxon sees the new appointment as yet another opportunity to proudly serve her community.

“I’m really excited and honoured because I know there was an incredible talent pool,” Dr. Coxon said. “I’m looking forward to giving my service to my community and to the Toronto Police.”

In a diverse career, Dr. Coxon has really done it all.

She began with the Toronto Police Service in 1996, when she worked in downtown Toronto on the frontline and then in vice and other investigative units including the youth bureau investigating child abuse, child sexual assault and youth crime. Over the years, Dr. Coxon was continuously promoted up the ranks as she worked in intelligence, vice, human rights, professional standards and community response. She also started the inaugural Computer Cyber Crime (C3) section before being promoted again to Inspector.

Most recently, she was a member of the service’s modernization initiative, otherwise known as the Transformational Task Force. She also implemented Canada’s first policing Internal Support Networks and organized the first police-led Racially Biased Policing Conference.

Her dedication to her policing career didn’t stop Dr. Coxon from simultaneously pursuing a life in academia. After initially attaining her B.A. from York University, she continued her education while working full-time in policing. She received an M.A. in Criminology from the University of Toronto in 2001 and completed a Ph.D. in Law from Leicester University in 2014.

Dr. Coxon found that simultaneously teaching at UofGH, pursuing her own studies and continuing vitally important work with the Toronto Police Service was a truly beneficial experience.

“For me, it’s been a personal growth journey in a couple ways. One, I love teaching the next generation of people who are going to work in the criminal justice system. I love the enthusiasm and open-mindedness that I see in  the next generation,” she said.

“At the same time, I love Guelph-Humber because it always allows me to do constant research. It allows me to see what’s happening around the world internationally and the innovation that’s occurring.

“It’s allowed me to grow personally, which is excellent.”

Dr. Coxon’s public service doesn’t end at her work in academia or policing. She’s also an active and long-standing volunteer. She has taken almost a dozen trips to countries including Ghana, Kenya, Thailand, China and Uganda to lead and assist in various community development initiatives.

Again, Dr. Coxon relishes any opportunity to give back.

“I’m creating a life of service to others,” Dr. Coxon said. “That’s really what I think my life is about. I feel that I’m so privileged to be able to live out what I feel is my personal reason for being here.”