Peel po­lice chief re­flects on long ca­reer

Jen­nifer Evans joined ser­vice as a cadet in 1983, be­came chief in 2012

Toronto Star - - GREATER TORONTO - PAM DOU­GLAS

Ski­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing, spend­ing time with fam­ily and friends — that’s what’s in store for Peel Re­gion po­lice chief Jen­nifer Evans in re­tire­ment.

That re­tire­ment started on Satur­day.

And so ends a chap­ter in lo­cal polic­ing that six years ago saw Peel ap­point its very first fe­male chief of po­lice. An out­spo­ken sup­porter of women in polic­ing, Evans was the 10th fe­male in Canada to wear the chief’s gold epaulettes.

“When I first joined polic­ing, I was the only fe­male (of­fi­cer) on my shift,” she re­calls. “A shift of 30 or 35 peo­ple, I was the only fe­male.” Of course, that’s changed. “I don’t think there’s a unit in our po­lice ser­vice where a woman hasn’t worked,” she says. “It’s the con­ver­sa­tions and talk­ing about the pos­si­bil­i­ties,” she says of the evo­lu­tion.

“I would def­i­nitely say I had an im­pact on that. Hav­ing the con­ver­sa­tions about eq­uity and hav­ing the con­ver­sa­tions about in­clu­siv­ity, it’s so im­por­tant.”

Evans worked in the field for more than 35 years, and has been rec­og­nized provin­cially and na­tion­ally for her work. But at 55, she’s ready to re­lax. “I would say, for fam­ily rea­sons, it was the per­fect time for me,” she says.

“I love com­ing to work. Love Peel po­lice. But I also know I’m go­ing to have the same en­ergy and pas­sion for my re­tire­ment as well.”

She did not, as had been pre­vi­ously re­ported, ap­ply for the job of OPP com­mis­sioner, she says em­phat­i­cally.

“I’m re­tir­ing to re­tire,” she says. “I never ap­plied for the OPP po­si­tion.”

She be­gan as a cadet in 1983 and spent the bulk of her ca­reer in­ves­ti­gat­ing crimes and ar­rest- ing crim­i­nals. She worked in the Youth Bureau, de­tec­tive of­fice and in the homi­cide unit. Her skills were rec­og­nized when, in 1996, she as­sisted Jus­tice Archie Camp­bell in the re­view in­volv­ing con­victed se­rial rapist and mur­derer Paul Bernardo. It’s one of the con­tri­bu­tions she is most proud of, she says.

After that, she spent two years as a vi­o­lent crime an­a­lyst at the provin­cial ViCLAS cen­tre in Oril­lia and con­ducted death in­ves­ti­ga­tions for the Of­fice of the Chief Coro­ner.

Back in Peel, she was pro­moted to deputy chief in 2008. Two years later, she was again as­signed to a ma­jor in­quiry — a re­view of the miss­ing women in­ves­ti­ga­tions in lower main­land British Columbia. She re­viewed thou­sands of doc­u­ments and con­ducted nu­mer­ous in­ter­views with po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Robert Pick­ton be­fore his ar­rest in 2002.

In 2012, she was ap­pointed chief, and in 2013, she was ap- pointed the Or­der of Merit of the Po­lice Forces by the Gover­nor Gen­eral of Canada.

She has served as pres­i­dent of the On­tario As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice and on the board of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice.

“She should be as proud of her ca­reer as the board is for hav­ing had the plea­sure to work so closely with one of Canada’s finest and most ac­com­plished chiefs of po­lice,” said Peel po­lice board chair Norma Ni­chol­son. “She epit­o­mizes the val­ues of team­work, lead­er­ship and pub­lic ser­vice. She has ded­i­cated her ca­reer to im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life in our com­mu­nity and al­ways serv­ing the res­i­dents of Mis­sis­sauga and Bramp­ton.”

“I think the big­gest key to my suc­cess has al­ways been to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Evans says. “I never saw things as a chal­lenge, al­ways saw things as an op­por­tu­nity ... I’ve been blessed. I’ve had a great ca­reer.”

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