War of words over Deputy Chief Peter Sloly's criticism of police budget heats up

Two Toronto councillors have come to the defence of deputy police chief Peter Sloly after he sharply criticized the current state of police operations and budgeting.

Councillor says Sloly spoke on behalf of Torontonians 'aghast' at ballooning police budget

Remarks made by Toronto police deputy chief Peter Sloly have drawn the ire of the Toronto Police Association, the union that represents frontline officers. (CBC)

Two Toronto councillors have come to the defence of deputy police chief Peter Sloly after he sharply criticized the current state of police operations and budgeting.

Sloly made his remarks at a small event hosted by the Studio Y fellowship program at the MaRS Discovery District Friday. Currently, Sloly is on planned annual leave, Toronto police said on Tuesday night. 

According to a Toronto Star report, Sloly told 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," the Star reported.

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack called Sloly's comments "inflammatory" and "self-serving," and questioned his timing.

"To me, (Sloly's comments) are very suspect," McCormack told CBC News. "Why would he be making those comments now when he was the deputy chief in charge of field operations for the last six years? Not once have we heard from him about possible reductions or options in reducing the size of the force.

"And that's why it appeared to be nothing more than sour grapes or an agenda," he added.

But councillors Shelley Carroll and Michael Thompson disagree. 

"The changes that he suggested are changes that the police board has already paid to be told by former police chiefs," she told Metro Morning, referring to an audit released in December calling for short-term cuts and long-term reform at the force and Toronto Police Services Board. For the first time in Toronto police history, its budget tops $1 billion. 

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

"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.'"

Coun. Michael Thompson told CBC Sloly is "a hero in this particular matter.

"They're trying to vilify Peter Sloly when in fact we should be giving him a medal and helping him to be able to help us transform the police force.

"It's about him realizing that the organization does not want to transform itself, both in terms of the issues around monetary resources," Thompson said. "This budget is growing grossly while all indications are that crime is going down."

Thompson said Sloly spoke on behalf of many Torontonians "who are aghast at the gross nature in which police budget is growing, and they don't see the transformation that really reflects modern policing organization for the 21st century."

Last year, the Toronto Police Services Board chose Mark Saunders — a deputy chief with 32 years on the force — over Sloly to replace Bill Blair as chief.

With files from Lorenda Reddekopp


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