By TOM GODFREY
Some members of the community are whispering about the bad blood that seems to exist between Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, two of the most senior policemen in Toronto.
The proud and determined men, both of whom are Black, have risen to the top of Canada’s largest city police force through hard work, talent and their skills.
Deputy Chief Sloly is well respected in the community and has been a member of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) for about 27 years. He stood up for anti-carding initiatives during the recent selection process for the position of Chief, in which he was considered a front-runner.
Sloly holds several degrees and has been a member of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI National Academy Associates and the Association of Black Law Enforcers.
Sloly has also been a board member of the BBPA National Scholarship Foundation; Kids, Cops & Computers; Covenant House, Herb Carnegie Future Aces, the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, the FYI Youth Anti-Violence Task Force and Trust 15.
Chief Saunders, with 32 years of service, was selected to lead the force last April and has a reputation of being a cop’s cop, who is a fan of carding and wants the practice to continue.
Their rivalry for the top job and positions held on major issues may have prompted the reports that have been circulating for some time.
Police insiders have told me that Sloly was moved from his long-time office to another on the top floor of 40 College St. His duties now include heading the force’s Executive Command that provides administrative and background support.
The veteran is in charge of a $31 million budget and more than 400 staffers who work behind-the-scenes to make a difference to public safety in Toronto.
The Executive Command has a mandate to deliver strategic planning, corporate communications, legal services and risk management support to the force, according to the force’s website.
No one at the executive level was willing to talk about the possible bad blood between the police executives.
Some call the lateral job transfer a demotion, claiming that Sloly is reduced to administrative tasks, which includes moving mountains of paperwork.
Other community members are concerned, saying that both men, of Jamaican heritage, have years of experience in the community and a lot to offer our young people about staying in school and out of trouble.
Meanwhile, a scene similar to a recent one in Toronto is being played out at Peel Regional Police Headquarters with Chief Jennifer Evans resisting a call by the police services board to end the practice of carding or, as it is called in Peel, street checks. She says her officers will continue with the practice.
The controversial practice that targets Blacks and brown-skinned men will continue in Peel despite firestorms of protests, marches and legal actions by groups in Toronto.
The board said due to policy restrictions they cannot force Evans to act.
Blacks accounted for 21 per cent of street checks conducted in Brampton and Mississauga, according to police statistics. Census data from 2011 shows that 9 per cent of the population of Brampton and Mississauga is Black. Whites made up 41 per cent of the population and accounted for 28 per cent of the street checks.
Members of watchdog and anti-carding groups said they are not pleased that carding will thrive in Peel.
“We have been fighting for a long time for carding to be banned in Toronto,” says Kingsley Gilliam, of the Black Action Defense Committee. “It is totally unacceptable for police to continue carding members of the Black community in Peel.”
He said there are three class-action lawsuits underway against police in Toronto, Peel and Durham regions to end carding and seeking millions in damages.