Superintendent Kelly Skinner

Superintendent Kelly Skinner

of The Toronto Police Services

August 26, 2022

At a young age, Kelly Skinner knew she was going to pursue a criminal justice career.

“I liked to help people and I wanted to make the city safer and safeguard the community,” she said. “That’s my personality.”

The goal became clear after meeting retired Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer Terry James while in high school.

“Her daughter and my younger sister were elementary school friends and that is how I got to know Terry,” recalled Skinner. “I often sat down with Terry and her husband Mike (Sherman) and we would have deep conversations about community and what I wanted to do after leaving high school.”

On an occasion, they asked if she had considered a career in policing.

“I was thinking about law and because I didn’t have that representation, that never crossed my mind as something I could do until I met her,” Skinner pointed out. “She said this is exactly what I needed to do and she was right. It was the best decision I have ever made.”

Joining TPS in 1998, Skinner was last month promoted to Superintendent, making her just the second female Black Toronto cop to attain the rank after Stacy Clarke.

The promotion, she acknowledges, comes with new responsibilities and a seat at the table to help influence change.

“Toronto Police has provided me with many opportunities to advance and develop and I lead with passion for our members, for the Service and the community,” said Skinner who co-chaired the ‘Know Your Rights subcommittee that developed the Service’s first ‘Know Your Rights’ video and was the recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal in 2019.

“In this new role, I get to continue that work on a broader scale. It is very significant because representation matters. When I was hired 24 years ago, there were no Black women in senior roles. Terry brought me into the fold and was so supportive. Now that I am a Senior Officer, I will endeavor to do the same. When you have your hand up, make sure it is reaching back to assist others.”

Two years before becoming a police officer, Skinner was the recipient of an Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) scholarship.

“If it was not for this organization, I would not be where I am today,” she said. “David Mitchell (the founding President), who was also a mentor to me, went to my college to pay tuition for the year with the scholarship funds. That is how involved this association was at the time.”

Born and raised in Toronto to immigrants from Trinidad & Tobago, Skinner completed the two-year Law & Security program at Sheridan College.

Founded mainly to promote and protect the interests of Blacks and other racial minorities in the profession and work closely with law enforcement agencies to stimulate and facilitate employment equity programs, ABLE has been granting scholarships since 1994.

Skinner was actively involved with the organization after receiving the scholarship, serving on the executive as the Assistant to the Secretary for four years.

“They were a significant part of me becoming a police officer and I am so happy now that I back with ABLE and am part of a committee that is looking at the organization’s constitution and modernization and basically coming up with a new vision for the future,” she said.

Now an Assistant Deputy Minister, Mitchell welcomed the promotion.

“I knew Kelly as a law enforcement student, ABLE scholarship recipient and then a bright young Police Constable,” he said. “Peter Butler III and Rose Fortune, Canada’s first Black male and female police officers, would be proud of the progress that Black women continue to make as leaders in law enforcement.”

Skinner, who was on the cover of ABLE’s seventh annual awards ball magazine in 1999, started at 31 Division that she considers the ideal launching pad for her policing career at age 20.

“There was only one other Black female officer working there at the time and there were very few Black officers working in community mainly populated by Black and other racialized members,” she pointed out. “It was a great way for me to see immediately the impact of who I was on policing in the community. If I was in a room or in a tense situation, I had the ability to act with the community and its young people in a way that could diffuse challenging situations. That is where I learnt that representation matters.”

In the last two decades, Skinner has acquired extensive experience in the authoring and execution of Part IV affidavits, search warrants, serious violent crimes and drug investigations and the gathering of gang intelligence.

With an extensive background in wiretap investigations, she shared her knowledge with members pursuing electronic surveillance courses at the Toronto Police College. She also assisted with instruction on the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario Interception of Private Communications Part VI course and was a panellist in Ministry of the Attorney General-run seminars and fora.

Prior to becoming a Senior Officer, Skinner was the Executive Officer to the Staff Superintendent of Detective Operations and Deputy Chief of Specialized Operations where she assisted with operations and performance for the Command.


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