So long, Sloly
If the initial one- line announcement of his departure was odd, the superlatives in the Police Services Board’s official statement were sarcastic praise for a man who was rejected for the chief’s job
12 Alok Mukherjee’s homage to departed deputy
The big news came in a rather unusual form, an email from the Toronto Police Services Board at 11: 52 am on Wednesday, February 10, with an allcaps subject line: TORONTO POLICE SERVICES BOARD ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION OF DEPUTY CHIEF PETER SLOLY. Period.
My reaction was one of surprise, but more about the manner of the announcement than Sloly’s resignation. A fuller press statement with the usual words of praise and gratitude arrived 17 minutes later. After 27 years of “distinguished service to the City of Toronto and its residents,” it read, “Deputy Chief Sloly has elected to move on to explore new career opportunities.”
Board chair Andy Pringle called Sloly “a highly respected leader who has been recognized for his excellence within the broader international policing community and celebrated by the public for his dedication to community policing.” Pringle thanked him “for his outstanding leadership and dedication over the course of his distinguished career.”
If the initial one- line announcement was odd, the superlatives used in the board’s statement were decidedly ironic praise for a man who, for all those fine words, was rejected by the same board for the chief’s job.
I don’t know if this was how the board intended to make the announcement or if someone hit the “send” button too soon. Regardless, the first bulletin seemed an appropriate reflection of the situation that’s existed at police headquarters for the last 10 months, since the board chose Mark Saunders to succeed Bill Blair as chief.
Sloly’s resignation was not a shock; the only question was when it would come. Contrary to rumours in certain circles, Sloly was not induced to leave. He resigned because he decided that this was the only honourable option left.
There is a new dispensation at police headquarters. It was clear from early in Saunders’s reign that the strategy Brian Mulroney took in dealing with his former rival Joe Clark, turning Clark into a valuable asset, was not the new leadership’s preferred approach. There was no place for Sloly.
His departure marks the end of an era in the history of Toronto’s police force.
It began in 2005, when the board chose Blair to succeed Julian Fantino.
Working together, the board and the new chief created a leadership team of deputy chiefs, staff superintendents and superintendents. In addition to Sloly, it included people like Kim Derry, Keith Forde, Jane Dick, Tony Warr, Glenn DeCaire, Darren Smith, Jane Wilcox and David McLeod.
The five years that followed were marked by hard work, energy, new thinking and a sense of purpose. These people brought fresh ideas and drove change, thus restoring the public’s confidence and making the chief and board look good.
They pursued the goal of building a police service that truly reflects the community, and they developed new policing strategies like the demandfactor deployment model to match staffing to the demands facing each division and the community mobilization program to reduce crime.
People in the group knew the ins and outs of frontline policing and understood the needs, expectations and experiences of a changing community – and some among them risked their future by daring to speak out about racial profiling.
Contrary to Fantino’s denial of the practice’s prevalence, they stated publicly that racial profiling was happening and that employees of colour had experienced it. They had found an ally in Blair.
Well, Sloly was the last of them, as I was the last board member from that era. And now he, too, is gone.
The knives had been out for a long time. There had been an abundance of rumours, innuendos, aspersions on his character even as his bosses moved him up the chain of command. Sloly was a young man in a hurry, moving too fast, were the whispered accusations, par for an organization that can be priggishly moralizing when it goes after someone and yet amazingly permissive toward a favourite.
It’s futile to speculate about what could or should have been.
The board and the police leadership have to decide what their priorities are and in what direction they plan to take policing.
And they have to begin to build a new leadership that inspires confidence in the community, instills enthusiasm in the men and women who work for them and injects a renewed sense of creativity and innovation.
There are many talented people in the Toronto Police Service, men and women from diverse backgrounds who are gifted, highly educated, committed and capable of out- ofthebox thinking.
Let’s hope the chief and the board will identify them and reach out to them to develop the next generation of leadership, as was done in 2005.3 Alok Mukherjee is former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. news@ nowtoronto. com | @ nowtoronto
The whispered accusations were par for an organization that can be priggishly moralizing when it goes after someone.