Peel police chief reflects on long career
Jennifer Evans joined service as a cadet in 1983, became chief in 2012
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.”