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Deputy Chief Peter Sloly resigns, denies he was pushed out

Last Updated Feb 10, 2016 at 9:29 pm EDT

Weeks after criticizing the direction of the Toronto Police Service, Peter Sloly has resigned as deputy chief, effective immediately. But Sloly vehemently denied that his comments suggesting front-line cuts had anything to do with his decision to leave the force after 27 years.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if he was pushed out. “I’m leaving on my own terms.”

Sloly, 49, addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon, saying he was proud of his work with Toronto police.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” he said. “It’s done so much for me and made me into the man I am today…I’m proud of the work I’ve done on behalf of the service…but I’m most proud of the people I’ve worked with.”

Sloly was one of the runners-up to Mark Saunders, who took over as police chief from Bill Blair last year.

Although he admitted to being disappointed, he maintained he wasn’t leaving the force because he was passed over for the job.

“I’m leaving because there’s a huge amount of opportunities out there,” he stressed. “The time is right for me.”

He said he has no immediate plans, and doesn’t have a job lined up, adding he wasn’t in a rush to “get back into policing.”

“I’ll be unemployed tomorrow and I’ll sleep in,” he joked.

Police Board issues statement

In a statement, the police board thanked Sloly for his many years of work.

“Sloly leaves the service as a highly respected leader, who has been recognized for his excellence within the broader international policing community and celebrated by the public for his dedication to community policing,” board chair Andy Pringle said in the statement.

Former Toronto Mayor Johh Sewell told CityNews he was disappointed by Sloly’s resignation.

“Sloly was the bright light in policing, probably in Canada,” said Sewell. “He was the first guy from the inside as far as I know to say, ‘we’ve got to do something different about carding.’ …And I didn’t like what he was doing but in fact the big thing was he recognized the problem and that was always the start.”

Controversial comments

Sloly has recently been under fire for making comments criticizing the state of policing and budgeting in the city. He also said the police service is transforming and that he planned to be a part of the change.

At a speech at the MaRS Discovery District on Jan. 15, he suggested the police service cut hundreds of front-line jobs to curb its swelling, billion-dollar budget.

Sloly said the force could “drop ourselves by several hundred police officers, which represents tens of millions of dollars,” by making use of “big data” and technology.

(To view this video on mobile click here)

On Wednesday he said he had no regrets.

“I wouldn’t change a single word again,” he said defiantly, adding that he was merely reflecting commonly held views about the modernization of policing.

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack didn’t agree. He called his statements “inflammatory,” and he was reportedly the subject of several union complaints.

(To view this video on mobile click here)

Sewell believes, in his opinion, Sloly was “chased out of the force.”

“He’s the guy who said, hey we could save some money. And because he did that, the police association, Mike McCormack, went right after him, laying all these complaints. Hardly anybody on the board was defending him. I think he’s probably said, hey this is stupid. They don’t want me? I’ll go somewhere else.

“He’s the guy that would have brought change. And I think Mike McCormack stands against change, that’s the problem.”

Rumours were swirling that Sloly was put on temporary leave in mid-January, but he said it was problems with his home, not work, that led to his brief absence.

(To view this video on mobile click here)

On Wednesday, McCormack told 680 NEWS he supports Sloly’s decision to leave the force and that it was the right decision.

“We’ve got a lot of important issues to deal with in Toronto [with] policing and community safety, and we’re looking forward to getting back away from this distraction about what’s going on with Peter Sloly,” the union president said.

McCormack said no one forced Sloly to resign.

“He looked at all the factors, I’m sure. He’s a smart guy and decided to move on,” he said.