Sudbury

One on One with Markus - Paul Pedersen

Sudbury’s top police officer said when he was a student, he was the one most likely to receive a comment like “if Paul worked harder, he could do a little better” on his report card.

Despite his role as police chief, Pedersen starts his day 'putting one pant leg on at a time'

Paul Pedersen is the chief of Greater Sudbury Police Services. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

'The Chief' wasn't always the chief.

Sudbury's top police officer said when he was a student, he was the one most likely to receive a comment like "if Paul worked harder, he could do a little better" on his report card.

The son of Danish immigrants, Chief Paul Pedersen freely admits that he didn't become fully engaged as a student until he was an adult.

"I can confess that as a kid, playing football and hockey were far more important to me," he said.

But Pedersen said working through police college, then later through a graduate program at Western University, instilled a lifelong love of learning, and enabled him to expand his depth of knowledge, and later apply his research in the community he serves.

It wasn't always so clear a path for Pedersen. Policing wasn't even on his radar until his twenties.

"I always wanted to work outdoors. I was a junior forest ranger, and I wanted to be a lumberjack," he said. "I wanted to work in northern Ontario, wanted to work in the bush."

With the prodding of a girl Pedersen was dating — and who he's now married to — policing became a more realistic option.

"[My wife] said that's fine, you want to go live in the bush, but you'll be living there by yourself."

Chief Pedersen, who hasn't shied away from taking photos with Sudburians, recently issued an apology for posing with the Sons of Odin, a group who allegedly has ties to an anti-racist group in Europe. (Facebook)

Pedersen, who rose up the policing ranks in southern Ontario, takes a lot of pride in the cases he's helped investigate that ended in a conviction. But he's hesitant to call those cases a win.

"I have led investigations into homicides, but it's difficult to qualify it as a success," Pedersen said. "It's bittersweet. While you are happy the system worked, and an offender is held accountable, you really wish it hadn't happened in the first place."

Pedersen does consider it a personal achievement that he's never had to fire his gun.

"[Situations where the weapon is drawn] were less commonplace when I started," he said. "Less threats of deadly weapons in those days. It's become more commonplace as years went on."

"Just about everybody has unfortunately been in a position they've had to do that. As for me discharging the firearm, never," he said.

Turn off the Chief

One of the elements of Pedersen's job he said came with some adjustment time was always being "the Chief." It's a role he relishes, but not one he can ever fully get away from.

"I can't stop being the chief because people don't call me Paul. I've got a neighbour across the way who says when I get home 'Hi, Chief!"

"But you don't put your hand up for a job and shy away from the work," he said. "I knew this job was going to involve engagement all the way around."

"I wear a uniform to work and my position is chief but my mom called me Paul, just like just about everybody. I start my day putting one pant leg on at a time, going to work, crossing my fingers, and finish the day going - okay, we'll do it again tomorrow."

To hear the full interview with Chief Pedersen click here.

One on One with Markus features longer-format interviews which allows us more room for a good chat. 

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