Darker Shade of Blue: A Black cop’s memoir with heart and humour

By Stephen Weir

It usually doesn’t happen this way. A retired Black York Region police supervisor wakes up at 4 am from a sound sleep, goes upstairs to his office, and sits down to begin writing his autobiography. Fast forward a few years, Keith Merith, without introduction, an agent, or an editor, mails off his manuscript to ECW publishing house in Toronto, who immediately pick it up!

A Darker Shade of Blue By Keith Merith

“They weren’t the only ones interested in my story,” Merith told the Caribbean Camera. “I think there were four others (publishers) that were interested!”

Now, with the book published and ready to appear on bookshelves across Canada, Merith is preparing for the launch. Typically, a book launch will attract 10 to 30 book lovers, so the event is usually held in a bookstore or a library, not a Scarborough restaurant bar. But, as the author explains, there are too many people wanting to come out to the launch that he had to find a place large enough to accommodate the people they expect to attend the early April event.

“We sent out the invites and two days later we already had 40 people saying yes!” he said. “I am nervous that the place will [not be able] to accommodate 100 I am expecting.”

Keith Merith is a retired Jamaican Canadian (via the UK) police superintendent, having served 31 years with the York Regional Police Service (YRP). Superintendent Merith has held command positions in Information Services, Court Services, Corporate Development, Intelligence, Special Services Bureau, and Organized Crime Bureau. He has worked in criminal investigations, training and education, drugs and vice, uniform patrol, and is a former member of the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit.

Superintendent Merith served two terms as president of the Association of Black Law Enforcers (A.B.L.E.), which focused on advocating for members operating within the Criminal Justice System. He is also the co-founder of the Citizenship Initiative Group (GIG), an organization that assists permanent residents in applying for and receiving Canadian citizenship.

“I believe in accountability no matter. That is what I have meant to do with this book,” he continued. “It is not a book about the York Region; it is really about the broader picture — how I became part of the establishment. I look at the broader picture, how officers of colour continue to face issues of systemic racism.

In A Darker Shade of Blue, Merith shares both his gut-wrenching and heart-warming experiences and advocates for immediate police reform in a balanced and level-headed manner. He praises the people in blue, but he also knows on a visceral level that there are deep issues that need to be rectified — starting with recruitment. It is a book with a sense of humour, respect, uplifting humanity and an overwhelming love for his wife Cheryl and their daughters and grandchildren.

Now that the 300-page book is done, the hard work begins. “It is a brand new ride, but it has been really good so far. I have a number of speaking engagements lined up so far,” he said. “I am not sure what I want out of it; I guess I want as many people to read the book as possible.”