Saunders says he never asked deputy chief to take time off after policing comments
Joshua Freeman and Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 20, 2016 6:50AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2016 5:38PM EST
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says he had nothing to do with the timing of Deputy Chief Peter Sloly’s current vacation, which comes on the heels of controversial comments he made about how the police service is run.
“Absolutely not,” Saunders told reporters when asked about whether he had asked Sloly to take time off. “He’s on leave and he made that choice himself.”
Toronto Police Service spokesperson Mark Pugash confirmed to CP24 Wednesday morning that the deputy chief is on “annual leave.”
The vacation comes just days after Sloly slammed the police service’s billion-dollar budget and suggested that the service could cut costs by eliminating hundreds of officers’ jobs.
Sloly’s cost-cutting comments were made at a forum hosted by the Studio Y fellowship program Friday, according to The Toronto Star.
The deputy chief reportedly told the forum that the Toronto Police Service was “wasting money on infrastructure” and could get rid of several hundred officers by leveraging “big data.”
He also said that policing in the city will be “exponentially costly” if it continues to be “focused and driven” on a “reactive enforcement model.”
Last year Saunders was named the city’s new police chief after both he and Sloly were considered for the job by the Toronto Police Services Board.
Responding to Sloly’s comments Wednesday, Saunders said the two were both asked last year to provide the board with their own vision of how TPS could undergo “transformational change” and that his vision won out.
“Peter has a version and I’m sure he has a version and he’s made the public aware of that version. I haven’t heard that version. I hope when he come back I have an opportunity to hear the version on how we can save hundreds of officers,” Saunders told reporters. “We’re on the same page when it comes to the transformational change piece.”
Saunders said that under the Police Services Act, it would be up to the police board to sanction Sloly for his comments if they felt it was appropriate to do so. He also acknowledged that the board discussed Sloly’s comments during an in-camera session at their meeting Wednesday, though he declined to comment on the substance of that conversation.
Saunders did say Sloly had sent him an email about his comments and the two would likely discuss the matter when Soly returns.
“He sent an email to me outlining what he said and why he said what he said and hopefully when Deputy Sloly gets in we’ll be able to have a conversation,” Saunders said.
He also said he is not aware of any animosity in the relationship between him and Sloly.
“I don’t think there is animosity and quite frankly that’s never been brought to my attention by him and I’ve certainly never suggested that there has been any animosity,” Saunders said.
However Sloly’s speech did ruffle a few feathers among members of the police service’s union.
“This is nothing more than Deputy Sloly getting out there and slagging the police service,” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack told CP24 on Monday.
“This is a guy who is the deputy chief responsible for field command. He was responsible for the last six years for the uniformed policing contingency and I don’t recall him at any point coming up to me or coming to the chief and saying ‘Hey we can get rid of 200 police officers or whatever.’”
Saunders said he does not know when the deputy chief will return from his vacation.