Peter Sloly officially named Ottawas next police chief – Ottawa Citizen

Peter Sloly officially named Ottawa\s next police chief - Ottawa Citizen
Former deputy chief Peter Sloly to take over as Ottawas chief of police
Ottawa's new Chief of Police, Peter Sloly, was announced Monday at Ottawa City Hall. Julie Oliver / Postmedia

He won’t solve race relations. He won’t end gun violence. It’s hard to fathom he’ll win the respect of every member of the rank and file.

Ive travelled some interesting roads and had some interesting experiences along the way, in policing and outside of it. And Im going to bring the full package here for you folks and give you my full effort for the full time that Im here, he said.

But in hiring Peter Sloly as Ottawa’s next chief — the first of colour — the police services board has hired change. And with that comes possibility and opportunity.

In 2006, I applied to be the chief of police here. I was a very young staff superintendent, just married. My wife and I were at a point in our lives, and in my professional life, where I thought a change might be a good thing, he said.

While he’s visited the capital every year since and says he looks forward to moving and raising his children here, Sloly is relatively unknown to the larger service and to the community.

After he stepped away from policing, Sloly took a job with Deloitte, advising the firm on projects relating to the companys risk and forensic practices.

The police board could have chosen an insider in Interim Chief Steve Bell, or they could have chosen an outsider with knowledge of the city. Former deputy chief Gilles Larochelle, who lost out on the chief job to Charles Bordeleau in 2012, was interviewed. As was RCMP Chief Supt. Rhonda Blackmore, the only female candidate to be shortlisted, who is well-liked in the service and previously worked a secondment with the force.

When he takes the reins, likely sometime in October, a few things will immediately differentiate him from his predecessor. He comes to Ottawa with a progressive policing philosophy different from Bordeleau’s and he arrives without the established personal connections, for better or worse, of someone who ascended the ranks locally.

“This is a very exciting day for everyone in our city,” board chair Coun. Diane Deans said Monday before officially announcing Sloly as the next chief.

Torontos former deputy police chief Peter Sloly is heading to the nations capital to take over as the chief of the Ottawa Police Service.

The selection process started with the board’s asking the community who and what they wanted in a chief of police.

Sloly was once in contention for the role of Torontos police chief in 2015 before Chief Mark Saunders was selected for the position.

“What we heard loud and clear was that the city needed a chief that would be a trusted partner in our community, a chief that could deliver effective policing services for everyone in our city, a person that could serve, protect and respect all communities, including our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens,” Deans said.

He stated that the service needed an overhaul and suggested that it could reduce costs by cutting hundreds of officers positions.

And in this, the board hopes Sloly will also be different. During Bordeleau’s tenure, the service faced criticism, both internally and externally, for its handling of race-related incidents, from hiring practices to the death of Abdirahman Abdi.

Sloly, a black man originally from Jamaica, will not fix race-related issues simply because he’s black. But as a person of colour with a long career in policing, he’s positioned to approach these issues in a way his predecessors couldn’t. He has lived experience.

Slolys resignation came on the heels of controversial comments he made about the services billion-dollar budget.

“We had a number of impressive candidates come forward, but I’m confident that we got this one right,” Deans said.

Deputy Police Chief Peter Sloly speaks at a news conference at Toronto Police headquarters Tuesday August 4, 2015.

Sloly left policing in 2016 when he retired from the Toronto Police Service after 27 years. He’s a former national soccer player and currently works as a security and justice consultant at Deloitte.

Congratulations to @SlolyServes on being named next Chief for @ottawacity . I am confident that you and your team will continue moving @OttawaPolice forward to keep Ottawa safe and supporting the great men and women of the OPS.

“I’ve travelled some interesting roads and had some interesting experiences along the way, in policing and outside,” he told a room packed with reporters, senior officers, the board and community members.

Congratualtions Peter Sloly on your appointment as Chief of the @OttawaPolice Services. I look forward to working with you and to your many contributions to our community. Welcome to Ottawa! @SlolyServes

“I’ll bring the full package here for you folks. I’ll give you my full effort for the full time I’m here.”

The Ottawa Police Services Board launched a national search earlier this year for a police chief, and held public consultations after Charles Bordeleau retired in May after seven years as Ottawas police chief.

Sloly has been criticized for being too forward-thinking, too radical in a time when policing decisions are heavily scrutinized.

In a statement, Sloly said "I am excited to get to know and work with the members of the OPS a tall ranks and in all roles, who have demonstrated such inspiring courage, innovation and compassion."

He publicly slammed Toronto’s police budget as being bloated and questioned the public’s trust in policing. But he also comes to Ottawa with the experience of helping to lead the largest force in the country.

He’s big on people and partnerships — looking after those in uniform and providing them with physical and mental safety.

He’s previously advocated for a less reactive policing model that is less about costly law enforcement and more focused on prevention by looking at the underlying social issues that lead to crime.

Sloly is currently a partner at Deloitte, where he is the national "Security & Justice" leader. The 27-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service resigned from the force in 2016.

“There’s simply not enough resources to provide all the services and meet all the expectations of a city like this,” he said on Monday.

The citys new chief @SlolyServes applied to be Chief in 2006 but didnt make the short list. Hes a husband, a dad to 5yo son and 13yo daughter. @ctvottawa #ottnews

“I believe in keeping cities safe, communities safe, people safe. I believe in protecting the most marginalized and the most victimized, but I also believe in the health of a community, the resilience of a community and that means you have to work with everyone and everything in every community.

Bordeleau congratulated Sloly on Twitter, saying "I am confident that you and your team will continue moving Ottawa Police Forward to keep Ottawa safe."

“You don’t get to pick or choose. Our people go into these communities every single day, not knowing what they’re going to face and in some cases, with a fear of not being able to come back at the end of the day.

“And in those communities, despite fear and in some cases despair, people welcome those officers.”

Sloly is a father of a five-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. He’s been married for 15 years. The fit had to be right for him to return to policing not just for himself, but his family.

“I really need to understand what’s going on in this city to a greater degree,” he said. “I’m quite confident, as I’ve met some of the folks from the community, [that] they care as much about public safety as the police officers who are on the frontline. I think we have far more in common than we have that’s different.”

“I needed to know I was coming to a city that would welcome my family. That would honour my traditions, that would respect my story and my diversity, that would be a safe place for my kids to play in the streets or the parks, that would have good schools, good post-secondary education, a good economy and good business for my wife and my daughter and son eventually. A lot of things had to come together. They came together right here.”

“I think that having our first new black chief, a member of our community being represented in our policing institution just goes to show that all the efforts and all the work that we’ve been doing to highlight the issues that the black community faces has been taken seriously,” said Ahmed-Omer, who also works with the Federation of Black Canadians.

Sloly is a communicator. Bordeleau was, too. But this is a different league. Sloly is well-spoken, charismatic and earnestly passionate — or so it comes across.

But he’s not yet ready to make decisions or even long-term plans about what to do. He needs to be briefed, meet his people and understand the city.

Despite leaving the Toronto Police Service over three years ago, he said his “passion for policing has remained.” He described leaving the force and moving to the private sector as “one of the most difficult transitions of my life” and said he “never shut the door fully” on returning to police work.

Sloly himself knows he won’t be the saviour to address every issue facing the city and Ottawa police.

“I believe that my lived experience will give me some advantages,” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “And I believe that what Ive gone through, succeeded in and struggled in and occasionally failed in, will allow me to bring a sense of wisdom and compassion to very difficult circumstances.

“If you’re looking to me for some straight answer that can give you all the consideration and comfort that you want, I’m simply not that person … But if you’re looking for someone to bring the best ideas and best people around the most vexing and complex issues and move the needle, I’m quite confident that you’ll be confident that the selection of the board is me.”

At city hall on Monday, Sloly fielded questions from media and members of the public about his plans and priorities as chief as he prepares to join a police force that’s dealing with budget and staffing pressures and that has experienced tensions internally and also externally with some communities in recent years.

Sloly isn’t bilingual but he’s committed to learning French and will start classes once he takes on the role.

“We’re excited to be working with [Sloly] and his leadership team, and we know that he believes in change and that anywhere that he’s been he’s implemented change. And so we’re looking forward to seeing what he’s able to do for this community and for us.”

The announcement Monday was attended by very few rank-and-file officers. They remain cautious about what this means for the force — especially after years of tension with police leadership.

“You want the highest level of morale, the highest level of energy, the highest level of commitment from the largest number of your members. There’s room for improvement but I feel there’s a strong base there.”

Most important for him when he gets in the chief’s office is to be visible — meeting officers, civilians, sitting in on meetings, making himself available to officers on parade — but also hitting the streets meeting the community.

“But I also believe that the people I see in front of me – whether they be in uniform or from the community – have equally compelling experiences, equally deep insights, an equal commitment to healthy, safe communities. I’ll tap on those folks.”

He was headed to police headquarters later Monday morning and on his way back to Toronto by the afternoon.

“All the ingredients are here,” he said. “I’ll do my very best to serve at the very highest level. There’ll be some bumps in the road coming up, no doubt – I don’t expect the honeymoon will last too long.”

Like Bordeleau before him, he knows the honeymoon will end. He’ll have to make tough decisions.

“As long as there’s friction between cop and community, as long as there’s morale issues internally, as long we still continue to see issues of workplace bullying and harassment, clearly more needs to be done. And I’m committed to making sure we do the best possible to provide a safe, healthy working environment for our officers so they can go out in the community and create a safe, healthy living environment for citizens.”

He won’t manage to fix everything that’s wrong, but he was hired because there are hopes he’ll try.

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