By RON FANFAIR
Inheriting the values and traits of his parents who made huge personal sacrifices when migrating from Jamaica four decades ago for a better future for their three sons, Peter Sloly rose through the Toronto Police Service (TPS) ranks to become the youngest deputy chief before retiring last months after 27 years of dedicated and eminent service that was celebrated at a community reception last week.
Family, law enforcement and community members and Jamaica’s consul in Toronto paid tribute to Sloly who stood out for his innovative approach to modern law enforcement and community-based policing.
Last year, he failed in his bid to become the city’s top cop.
“Like our father who was a lawyer and a man of immense integrity, Peter is as straight as an arrow,” said older brother David Sloly who spoke on behalf of the family at the event at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) centre. “Our mother was a social worker and Peter is a caregiver who offers help before it’s even asked for. He’s been the gentle giant in our family and this was evident in the way in which he looked after our grandparents in their waning years.”
Keith Forde, the city first Black deputy chief who retired six years ago, said Sloly’s creative mind transformed policing in Toronto.
“It also made a lot of people uneasy,” said Forde who supported Sloly for the chief’s position. “It has even made some people insecure because he’s not supposed to think outside the box. When I started to rise through the ranks, they started to try to put me in a box, but I wouldn’t go into it. His thinking outside the box and his creativity made him a model.”
Forde thanked Sloly for ignoring career advancement and even his personal health by doing what is just and right.
After the Toronto Star’s highly publicized series on racial profiling 14 years ago, Forde, Sloly, Dave McLeod and Karl Davis – all now retired – stepped forward and made it clear to anyone who would listen that racial profiling existed in the Service.
“We met many times in my office at the college and Peter was suffering from severe back pains at the time,” said Forde. “He used to lie down on the floor on his back giving his input during those meetings.”
He noted that Sloly would be an excellent asset and valuable contributor to any organization.
“I say so because of your great vision, your vast wisdom, your innovative thinking and your ‘can do’ attitude,” he told his friend.
Three years ago, Sloly won the “Top Cop” honour for his social media leadership at the eighth Social Media, the Internet & Law Enforcement (SMILE) conference in Omaha, Nebraska. The award is presented to the law enforcement executive who is a risk-taker and pioneer in the promotion and use of social media in policing.
Speaking on behalf of the Jamaica-Canada Diaspora Foundation (JCDF) and the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC), Valarie Steele told Sloly he should be proud that he’s definitely known to his community.
She also didn’t hold back in expressing her disappointment that he’s no longer with Canada’s largest police service.
“I guess our force was not progressive enough for you,” said the former JCA president. “You think ‘La Grande’ and the Toronto Police Service is entombed in ‘Le Petit’ in their thinking as they prefer crawling away from progress. You have outgrown them, you can out-think them and your forward thinking is totally unacceptable to them, so they colluded to sabotage you. Fools! Like Judas who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, they will eventually regret their behaviour.”
Jamaica’s consul Aliecia Taylor said Sloly represented his country well by becoming an outstanding citizen in his adopted homeland while Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) president Kenton Chance announced that that organization is bestowing Sloly – a long-time ABLE member – with life membership.
“You have provided us with knowledge, guidance and time that have crafted our vision for celebrating the past, giving to the present and preparing for the future,” said Chance, a manager with the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.
ABLE combined with the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Tropicana Community Services, the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations, BADC, First Fridays, the JCDF, the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education, the Black Business & Professional Association and the JCA to host the celebration.
“Today, we celebrate the far-reaching impact of a highly respected visionary and leader who has tirelessly dedicated much of his life to serving and protecting us all,” said JCA interim president Maureen Ennis.
Tropicana’s president Jenny Gumbs said Sloly “is a distinguished public servant and absolute wonderful human being”, while BBPA president Pauline Christian noted that the retired officer raised the TPS profile.
Former Toronto Police Services Board members Roy Williams, Hamlin Grange and Alok Mukherjee and several senior police officers attended the celebratory event.