By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher
The appointment of Peter Sloly as Deputy Chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) is notable for a number of reasons. However, two specific ones stand out.
The first is that, as an eminently qualified candidate for the job, he got it. As Police Chief Bill Blair has said, he was the best person. Never mind that there is already another Black Deputy Chief in Keith Forde. Never mind that two of the four Deputy Chiefs on the TPS will be Black.
That says a lot about the TPS and its current leadership. Which is the second reason this appointment is especially noteworthy.
Over the past decade or so, the TPS has made great strides, both in its hiring and promotion of minorities. There was a time when that wasn’t the case.
But the TPS has recognized the changing face of this city and has not been afraid to face it head on in terms of how it presents its own face to the public. It could not have been easy. There would have been resistance by some folks who liked things just the way they were. Change always has its challenges.
It would have been easy for a weaker and less committed leadership to sidestep Sloly for this position, citing the fact there is already a Black Deputy Chief.
We are stressing this because we know how things usually work and we want to emphasize how important this appointment is as it shows the police command under Chief Blair in a light that we must not ignore.
There are other corporations/organizations in both the public and private sectors which are also moving towards a more inclusive work force, especially at their senior levels, but the TPS has been a leader in this area and deserves to be recognized for it.
Sloly, of course, brings with him all the attributes the service could desire in its leadership. He is very well educated. He has a Bachelor’s degree in sociology; a Master’s degree in business administration from York University’s Schulich School of Business, no less; he is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Rotman police executive leadership program and of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national academy.
In 1995, he finished first out of some 1,100 candidates who took the police sergeant’s exam.
He is also very community oriented and well respected, especially – but not only – within our community. Which means that being part of – and active in – our community is not a negative.
At the young age of 43, what an example he is – and will continue to be – for our youth, especially our young men. He can tell them that he came here as a boy of 10 from Jamaica and worked hard, studied hard and made it on his own merit and that they can do the same if they really tried. He could tell them that there is nothing that they could not do if they wanted. The fact that the TPS has recognized his qualifications, his skills and his ability with this appointment will support his assertions to the youth that they can reach as far and as high as their dreams will allow. And he will join Forde and other senior Black officers on the TPS – and other regional police forces – to mentor young officers of colour, and encourage more young people to see policing as a very viable career option.
Sloly’s appointment is not the only important one of someone from our community recently. Dr. Chris Spence’s appointment as Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board comes quickly to mind. We featured him in Share last week.
There have been others. Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Jay Hope, himself one of Canada’s top African Canadian police officers, has been seconded to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services as a Deputy Minister. In that position, he has been responsible for the appointments of a number of very qualified people from our community to very important positions. We have also featured many of them in Share.
So, this is not to take anything away from any of them. But those of us who have observed the TPS over the years must now feel a deep sense of satisfaction in the progress that is being made.