TORONTO — In his first public media appearance since making what some regarded as controversial comments surrounding his police force, the deputy chief of Toronto police said he’s received a great deal of support from the public.
“I’m surprised that people were surprised about those comments,” Peter Sloly said.
“They weren’t new to me and they weren’t new to the people leading progressive change in policing across this city and across the country.”
In mid-January, addressing a crowd of young professionals at a talk for the Studio Y fellowship program, Sloly said the force was too slow in embracing technology and social media, was too reactive instead of being proactive and could tame its large budget by cutting hundreds of jobs.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack, head of the union that represents Toronto police officers, said Sloly was simply upset he was passed over for the force’s top job as chief.
But at least two city councilors, Shelley Carroll and Michael Thompson, have defended Sloly’s comments, and Mayor John Tory said what was said was not necessarily untrue.
“In a complex, diverse society in 2016, you’re going to do things differently than you did in 1966 and 1936,” Tory said.
“I think it does represent a continuous evolution in police training and it will continue to evolve in ways that we cannot predict going forward.”
Sloly just returned from an “annual leave,” fueling speculation about the future of his employment with the Toronto Police Service.
“There were a few things being talked about in the media,” he said.
“I think most importantly the things I was talking about are the things the mayor is talking about, the councillors are talking about, what the chief and command are talking about, and I’ve been talking about personally for over a decade.”
The deputy chief opened up to the media Wednesday during the Toronto Police College’s annual officer training day, where new techniques are showcased to stakeholders.
“The training is really good and I think the trainers are really good but then what happens? When people go out to their divisions and on the street,” said Jennifer Chambers, Executive Director of the Empowerment Council, which reviews police training with respect to members of the public with mental illness.
Chambers said body cameras would be an effective, objective way of ensuring that training learned in police college carries over to the streets when constables are on the beat.
Some have viewed Sloly’s candor as a sign of readiness to move into the private sector or with another force.
But Sloly did not address those rumours, saying today was “business as usual.”
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