Nishan (Nish) Duraiappah has officially been sworn in as the new chief of the Peel Regional Police Service.
Duraiappah, who previously served as a deputy chief with Halton Regional Police, took office during a ceremony in front of dignitaries, officers and civilians in Brampton Tuesday afternoon.
“The trust that the public expects from us is the same I expect from each of you … and that is what you’re going to get from me,” Duraiappah told the audience, often speaking directly to Peel Regional Police personnel.
“I’ve never envisioned on being in the role of chief, but I do recognize that this is where I am, and this is my commitment, and this is where I want to be with all of you.”
Duraiappah was named to the post in August and takes the reigns from interim Chief Chris McCord, who will be retiring on Wednesday. McCord was named acting head of the service in January after Jennifer Evans announced her retirement.
During his address, Duraiappah spoke about the need for Peel Regional Police and its members to innovate and collaborate.
“In some cases, we will be called to divest ourselves from some of the things we did in the past, but it’s important to adapt and move forward,” he said.
“There’s always that quote, ‘If we dislike change, we’re going to dislike relevance even more.’ So the point being is to lead, we need a can-do mentality as we move forward. It’s critical to us. That is not just my expectation of each of us in Peel, but it’s also my continued commitment to you.”
Duraiappah spoke about the need for work-life balance and for personnel to be supported when it comes to personal wellness, citing the recent suicides of officers in Toronto, Ottawa and within the OPP.
He also discussed his journey into policing. Duraiappah said he and his family immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka when he was a young boy. He told the audience he was encouraged to get a job with a professional designation such as an engineer, but it was his high school teacher that encouraged him to consider policing through the Police Ethnic and Cultural Education youth program.
Duraiappah began his career with Halton Regional Police in 1995, working as a constable in uniform patrol, the guns and gangs unit, and with the RCMP combined forces special enforcement unit. He moved on to command posts with Halton Regional Police before ascending to the role of deputy chief.
Nando Iannicca, chair of the Peel Police Services Board, said the Board was looking for someone who could look ahead and “drive progress.”
“Change was a constant theme in our conversation,” he said.
“The more we got to know him, the more confident we became that he was the right man for the job. Today that confidence remains unshaken.
“Get out there as soon as you can and speak with the officers, speak with civilians, speak with the residents of our fine communities. You will find a young, diverse, dynamic group that is eagerly awaiting your leadership and vision.”
In a lighthearted moment at the end of the ceremony, Duraiappah — who is an active user of Twitter — asked the audience for a special favour.
“At the risk of missing one of the greatest moments I could possibly have, I’m going to do a selfie of all of us, is that good?” he joked, before taking a few photos.