Peter Sloly's police budget criticism a hot topic at board meeting

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Peter Sloly, his deputy chief, should have come to him first with his criticisms of the police budget.

Police association angered by deputy's comments, but councillors praise strong words

Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, who is currently on leave, criticized police spending at a talk last week. (CBC)

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says Peter Sloly, his deputy chief, should have come to him first with his criticisms of the police budget.

Sloly, who police confirm is currently on annual leave, sharply criticized the current state of police operations and budgeting during a small event hosted by the Studio U fellowship program at the MaRS Discovery District last Friday.

"I just wish certain things were said to me," Saunders told reporters at Wednesday's meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board.

This year's police budget topped $1 billion for the first time ever. A report by accounting firm KPMG, commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board in 2014 and released last year, found policing could be delivered in a more "proactive" and "sustainable" way for less money, but only if the force implemented "long-term reforms."

Sloly's comments were similar. According to a Toronto Star report, Sloly told event attendees that policing will be "exponentially costly" until it stops "being focused and driven on that reactive enforcement model."

Sloly also said the force could "drop ourselves by several hundred police officers, which represents tens of millions of dollars" by leveraging technology and "big data."

Saunders said Sloly has emailed him in the wake of the speaking engagement to explain his comments.

The chief also said he, personally, would not discipline Sloly for what was said, though the police board might.

Sloly hasn't commented publicly since delivering his talk. 

Police board discusses Sloly's remarks

Sloly's comments were discussed during an in-camera session at Wednesday's board meeting, Saunders and Mayor John Tory confirmed, though neither would disclose what was said.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said he personally won't discipline Sloly for his comments, however the Toronto Police Services Board could. (The Canadian Press)
"I'm not going to make it nefarious in any way, shape or form," Saunders said, adding Sloly is on leave merely because he's allowed to take leave.

The deputy chief's comments have already drawn the ire of the Toronto Police Association, who filed a complaint with the board.

President Mike McCormack called Sloly's comments "inflammatory" and "self-serving."

However some city councillors praised Sloly for speaking up.

"The chief and the chair [of the board] — they have a choice to make here," said Coun. Shelley Carroll.

"They can fight that change, suppress that change, a clarion call from deputy chief Sloly or they can say 'OK, you're right and you have people you've mentored in the force that respect you. We need an agent of change and I'm charging you with that task.'"

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