Outgoing Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack says he has been planning his retirement since November but it was pushed back due to COVID-19.

“It was a slow burn. I’ve been discussing this with my board since last November,” McCormack told CP24 Wednesday morning. “I announced to my members earlier this year that I would be retiring this year and unfortunately with COVID, it pushed off my retirement.”

McCormack announced Tuesday night that he will be stepping down from his role on Aug. 1 after 11 years at the helm of Toronto’s police union.

“I wanted to make sure we got through this as an organization, as a membership. We’ve been working on this transition and we’re ready now and that’s all. So it’s been something that’s been contemplated and announced to our membership for quite some time,” he said.

McCormack’s retirement will come just a day after that of Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and at a time when there are widespread calls for changes to policing.

The union boss and former cop told CP24 that whoever succeeds him will have to be “nimble and forward thinking.”

“One of the things that I did when I first started is that you take out the rear-view mirror — you just look forward. Don’t look at the past and get embedded in how we’ve dealt with things in the past,” McCormack said.

In an environment where there is intense scrutiny of police and their work, McCormack warned against “demonizing” police officers.

“You have to be prepared to sit down and have a narrative and discussion based on facts and evidence and the association has always been prepared to do that,” he said. “So is there a common ground? Yeah, we’ve seen that in many things that we’ve been doing in policing already and that will continue but that narrative cannot be at the expense of the membership of policing or the community.

“You can’t demonize police and then say ‘OK let’s have a discussion based on politics or emotion.’ That discussion should be based on evidence and data and that’s where we’ll have the best outcomes.”

The son of former Toronto police chief Bill McCormack, he noted that his retirement marks the end of an era of sorts.

“There’s been a McCormack on the police service here in Toronto for the past six decades and with my retirement that’ll be the last after 60 years, so we’ve seen it all through our family.”

TPA vice-president Brian Callanan will serve as interim head of the organization until a new leader is elected by the membership in 2021.