By Neil Armstrong
|Photo contributed Peter Sloly, Chief of Police, Ottawa Police Service|
Jamaican Canadian, Peter Sloly, is the new Chief of Police for the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) in Canada’s capital city. He will assume his role in October.
On August 26, the Ottawa Police Services Board announced that it has selected Sloly as the Chief – the first Black person appointed to the position. Ottawa City Hall was packed, with many standing as there was an influx of Black people, many of whom were Jamaicans.
“Our Board began this recruitment for a new Chief by listening. We wanted to make sure the community saw their feedback reflected in the decision we made,” said Board Chair Diane Deans.
She said the Board was impressed with the candidates that came forward but unfortunately there could only be one Chief.
“I am confident we have selected the right leader for the Ottawa Police Service; someone that the public and members of the OPS can get behind.”
Sloly, who was a deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service, said he was honoured to have been selected by the Board.
“I am excited to get to know and work with the members of the OPS at all ranks and in all roles, who have demonstrated such inspiring courage, innovation and compassion. I am equally excited to meet and get to know the members of Ottawa's communities who have stepped up bravely to help build a safer and more inclusive city. Finally, my family and I are looking forward to moving to the nation's capital and immersing ourselves in Ottawa's amazing history, culture and diversity," said Sloly.
The Board extended its sincere thanks to outgoing interim Chief Steve Bell for his leadership during the recruitment process. He will remain in that position until Sloly assumes his role.
Sloly is currently a partner at Deloitte where he is the national “security & justice” leader. He is a trusted and respected strategic advisor to private and public sector executives helping them to increase organizational efficiency as well as to improve public safety, service, trust and value.
Prior to joining Deloitte, Sloly was a 27-year veteran member of the Toronto Police Service who attained the rank of Deputy Chief of Police and resigned from the service in 2016.
He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served two tours of duty in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo.
The former Toronto police officer has received many awards including: Officer of the Order of Merit “Police Forces” medal, the United Nations Peacekeeping medal, the Canadian Peacekeeping medal, the Police Exemplary Service medal and the Queen’s Jubilee medal.
He has a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. In the 1980s, Sloly played professional soccer and was a member of the Canadian Men's National Soccer Team. He is married with two children.
Sloly resigned from the Toronto Police Service after he was overlooked for the top position of Chief. Former Toronto Police Board Chair Alok Mukherjee notes in his book, ‘Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing,’ that the “fix was in” to groom an alternative to Sloly becoming chief. Mark Saunders, also of Jamaican heritage, was appointed Chief of Police.
Former publisher, author and journalist, Ewart Walters, who lives in Ottawa says Sloly’s appointment is good and to those who are asking if it is a Black appointment he notes, “We have lots of colours and people here, the fact that he’s Black, that’s not the qualifying thing. He is qualified by many other things, not just Black.”
He says ever since the police shooting of Vincent Gardner in 1992 as he sat quietly on a couch, police chiefs in Ottawa have been trying to come to grips with the tension between their officers and the Black community.
He said Sloly will be working in a police service that has six Black inspectors -- that did not exist two years ago -- and has a visible minority deputy chief. There are no visible minority or Black superintendent yet but that will happen in the near future, says Walters.
He noted that the January 2018 declaration by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada had signed on to the UN Decade for People of African Descent and other events have brought the Black community together.
Advocacy groups, Black Agenda Noir (BAN), 613-819 Hub and others have emerged since then, and since then Ottawa has seen several firsts: Black justice of the peace, Black director of education, Black councillor, and first visible minority deputy police chief.
Meanwhile, Adaoma Patterson, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, is pleased that Sloly has been appointed the top cop in Ottawa.
“Peter has been a friend of the Jamaican Canadian Association, championing police reform and issues such as carding which is disproportionately affecting the Black community. On behalf of the Board of Directors and members of the JCA, I congratulate Peter. We look forward to Peter tackling some of the challenges currently facing Ottawa,” she said.
This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, Sept. 5-11, 2019.