Two Black deputy police chiefs in Peel
March 1, 2018
As she was making a presentation to a group of students last week, Peel Regional Police senior officer Ingrid Berkeley-Brown thought about her father who was a cop in Guyana and in whose footsteps she followed.
A day later, she was promoted to deputy chief, making her the first Black female to attain the rank in Canada.
Berkeley-Brown’s father, Cardwell Pellew, died in Guyana on May 6, 1966.
“He never got the opportunity to see me wear this uniform, but I know he would be proud of all that I have achieved in this profession,” she said.
Walterine Walton must also be gushing looking down from heaven. Initially, she didn’t support her daughter becoming a law enforcement officer.
“She came around after she saw me in uniform and saw how happy I was,” said Berkeley-Brown. “When I visited her in my police outfit at the nursing home she was in before passing away in 2010, she would always say, ‘Here is my daughter’, for everyone within distance to hear.”
One of 11 children, Berkeley-Brown migrated in 1974 and completed high school at Sir Sandford Fleming before volunteering as a probation and parole officer. While helping young people find community service placements, she met retired Toronto cop Sid Young who suggested she consider a policing career.
Five years after applying to several police services in the Greater Toronto Area and the Ontario Provincial Police, Peel made the call.
Berkeley-Brown was her Service’s only Black female officer after graduating from the provincial police college in 1986. She and Toronto Police inspector Sonia Thomas were the only Black female recruits in a class of about 300.
Promoted to sergeant in 2002 and staff sergeant five years later, Berkeley-Brown joined the senior ranks in 2013 when she was promoted to inspector and superintendent three years later.
The married mother of two children is the recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal and the United Achievers Club of Brampton Community and African-Canadian Achievement Awards.
It was a historic day last Friday in Peel as Marc Andrews joined Berkeley-Brown as one of two Blacks deputies introduced at the Service’s board meeting.
“The new deputies are assuming their roles at a very exciting time for policing in Peel Region,” said chair Sue McFadden. “Deputies Andrews and Berkeley-Brown bring a depth and breadth of expertise and experience in community policing, diversity and inclusion, fiscal responsibility, mentorship and strategic management.”
When Wade Lawson was killed three decades ago by a Peel Regional police officer, Andrews was on Canada’s west coast serving with the Canadian Armed Forces after graduating from Applewood Heights Secondary School and the University of Toronto where he was a running back on the varsity football team.
“The shooting took place not far from where I was raised and it divided the community,” he recalled. “I served in peacekeeping roles overseas, but I thought the best way I could give back to my community and be effective was to return to the place where I grew up and become a police officer.”
Migrating from Jamaica at age 13, Andrews -- who has an MBA from Athabasca University -- joined the Service 28 years ago and was the first Black officer promoted to the senior ranks as an inspector in 2008. He was the superintendent overseeing uniform and civilian hiring and organizational training prior to becoming a deputy chief.
Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) founding president Dave Mitchell hailed the appointments.
“They are significant in that we have two career officers that have basically reached the pinnacle of policing and continue to blaze a trail and set an example for younger officers,” he said. “It’s just too bad that some of the early trailblazers like Larry McLarty and Karl Oliver (the first and fifth Black cops respectively hired by Toronto Police in the1960s) are not around to see what’s happening. We are making progress, but there is still much more work to be done.”
Longtime Peel resident Len Carby said having more diversity in the police senior leadership team is encouraging.
“Clearly, these officers have sterling records and their promotion is based on performance,” he said. “They now have the opportunity to make their mark on policing in this community in a significant way as leaders in positions of authority.”
Last month, Halton Regional Police officer Jeff Sandy became his Service’s first Black inspector.
The Carleton University graduate and varsity basketball player joined the Service in August 1997 and was promoted to sergeant in 2008 while a member of the tactical rescue unit.
Sandy is completing a certificate in police leadership & management at Dalhousie University.