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"The Skinny Immigrant Kid" Who Became Toronto's Deputy Police Chief

04/22/2013 04:44 EDT | Updated 06/22/2013 05:12 EDT

When Peter Sloly was appointed as Toronto's Deputy Police Chief -- the Chair of the Police Board welcomed him by expressing how he "brings with him notable skills in community mobilization and equitable policing." He continued to celebrate his "commitment to justice, safety, community based policing and bias-free service delivery will help the Board and the Service to meet the needs and expectations of all Torontonians."

As he approaches his fourth year as Deputy Police Chief -- the "skinny immigrant kid from Jamaica" reflects on his signature contribution to the police board, his time as a peacekeeper in Kosovo and gives advice to new immigrants who may want to emulate such a high profile career.

One of your signature past success has been in the formation of community partnerships thru community policing and crime prevention. Why is that kind of partnership the best way to solve the many challenges we face as a city and country when it comes to safety?

Simply put, cops can't do it alone. The type of public safety and criminal justice issues that we are facing are deep rooted and complex. They are "wicked" problems that require a mufti-disciplinary and multi-sectorial approach in order to get beyond knee jerk, band aid, sound bite solutions. These issues can only be addressed by cops, community and other civic leaders working together in true problem solving partnerships!

It must really be hard to see the many black on black crime not just in Toronto but in cities like Calgary. Many parents are burying their young kids at such a young age. Where do you think the problem lies and what should be done to try to solve it?

First, I have come to reject the notion of "black and black crime." All demographics and all communities struggle with crime. All crimes are serious and all communities can and do contribute to crime reduction. The roots of all crime are deep and start in the earliest stages of human development, family life and community health. We need to start with a greater focus on crime prevention which includes: improved health care for new born infants/children, improved parenting skills, improved investment in education, improved integration of public services and improved initiatives from police that better balance crime prevention and law enforcement.

You have had a distinct honour of being part of Canada's great Nobel Peace winning effort in peacekeeping around the world? Looking back, how was it like to have been part of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) where you were a Command Staff Officer and the Canadian Contingent Commander.

It was one of the greatest personal and professional challenges in my life. It was a great honour to represent the Toronto Police Service and Canada in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo from 20001-2002. It was impossible to undo all the destruction, hatred, violence and human rights abuses that took place in Kosovo and the Balkans but it was necessary to try. I, along with over 5000 international police officers from 53 contributing nations, tried to do just that.

It was also an opportunity to see the emerging nature "globalization" where conflicts in one part of the world could have a "butterfly effect" all around the world. Finally, the UN Mission allowed me to travel extensively, learn about human nature, and grows as an individual and to meet the love of my life, my wife!

The Toronto Star once interviewed your former mentor and police officer John Knox and he described you in very high terms. He also said you would make a fantastic chief of police. What qualities do you think we should we look for in our chief of police.

John Knox is a friend and a mentor. I also look at Chief William Blair in the same way. John helped a skinny immigrant kid from Jamaica to become a member of the Canadian national soccer team. Chief Blair helped a newly promoted young Sergeant to become a Deputy Chief of one of the best police services in the world. Leaders and police chiefs need to be like John Knox and Chief Blair - people who are willing to take the time to develop the full potential of people.

You immigrated to Canada at the age of 10 from Jamaica. What message do you have for young people especially those that have come to Canada at a young age like yourself?

You can achieve anything in this great country of Canada. But you will not be given anything on a silver platter. You need to invest in yourself through continuous education, personal integrity and hard work. You need to take out Canadian citizenship and fully exercise both your rights and responsibilities. You need to hold yourself accountable before pointing fingers at others.

You need to believe in yourself before others will believe in you If you can do these things - then you will succeed in Canada and in life.