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Nishan Duraiappah says he will lead by example

Nishan Duraiappah was recently promoted to inspector for One District (Milton and Halton Hills) of the Halton Regional Police Service. Metroland West Media Group File Photo

by Kathy Yanchus

The first time Nishan Duraiappah laid eyes on Milton, Ontario, it was as a six-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant.

An only child, Duraiappah arrived in this country when just a year old and after a brief time in Toronto, moved to one of Milton’s first new subdivisions.

Today, 31 years later, as Duraiappah surveys the much-altered and densely populated Milton landscape, it’s as inspector, 1 District (Milton and Halton Hills) of the Halton Regional Police Service.

Duraiappah may be new to the job, but not to the community. His multi-faceted and accomplished career began as a uniform police officer patrolling the streets of Milton, Halton Hills and Burlington. He served the police services in a multitude of capacities throughout the region, but remained broadly ensconced in this community as family man, coach, musician and teammate.

In a relatively short period of time, he has shot through the ranks and distinguished himself in criminal investigations, and as an investigator in the drugs and morality unit where he worked for four years. He was seconded to the RCMP for a brief period of time and then promoted to sergeant as diversity and cultural co-ordinator working out of headquarters and for the police chief.

In this position, Duraiappah was responsible for the co-ordination of all cultural relations forged by the police service and represented the chief of police and the service as primary contact. He also co-ordinated all internal diversity and cultural training for police so that “they understood the changing community which we were policing.”

A reciprocal component of this job was also allowing newcomers an opportunity to learn of policing here in Canada through outreach, he says.

Rather than this position being launched in response to a need, it served as a proactive approach to accommodate the increasingly diverse and fast growing communities within Halton, he says.

It was designed to accommodate not just the region’s cultural diversity, but other segments of the population such as the deaf community, those with disabilities and multi-faith communities.

“We as an organization need to be connected. Everybody here within the region deserves the same equitable policing services. For us not to be progressive, to not be understanding of the needs of every citizen, is for the police service not to live up to its core function,” he says.

Having worked with many other police organizations across the province, he has always been proud of how advanced Halton police are in their cultivation of working partnerships with community leaders, so that when issues arise, contacts are a mere phone call away.

After serving as a patrol sergeant and detective in Burlington, Duraiappah was promoted to staff sergeant as executive officer to the deputy chief of operations, then assigned as manager of drugs and morality, guns and gangs and firearms units, which led to his current promotion.

Duraiappah says he’s fortunate to have been given the opportunities in policing he has, and happy to have contributed in each of them.

Halton is one of the safest communities nationally and has the benefit of being ahead of the curve, says Duraiappah. Without the demands imposed on police in large urban centres, Halton can take the lead with innovative new projects. One of those programs initiated in the 1980’s led to Duraiappah’s career choice.

In his last year at Milton District High School, a 17-year-old Duraiappah participated in the Police Ethnic and Cultural Education (PEACE) Program, a summer placement initiative designed to attract a diverse group of students and expose them to a broad range of policing functions.

“I met a few people who really extended themselves to me and made the experience pivotal to me,” he says.

So profound was the experience that he maintained those relationships throughout his post-secondary education at University of Toronto where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Sociology. He then went on to the Ontario Police College and was deployed in his hometown.

In terms of policing over the years, Duraiappah says community needs haven’t changed, however, the way police respond to those needs has. People still desire safe, quiet communities, free of disorder, whether they’re in older core areas or sprawling new developments, he says.

There are contemporary slants to issues involving youth and fraud, for example, which drive how police respond, he says.

“As an organization, policing has become more sensitive to the changing needs of the community. For example, we have increased focus on assisting victims, youth and investigations pertaining to elderly, as well as technological crimes,” says Duraiappah.

“Officers have become more technologically advanced. As an organization we continue to grow. Our mechanisms get better.”

The current face of the police force is young and diverse, itself a reflection of the community it represents, he says. He feels his time immersed in a broad spectrum of policing gives him a firm foundation for his new post.

At 37, he’s also not that far-removed from his patrol days and he has a young family — three children under 6 — so he understands the demands of job and family.

He’s excited and optimistic about his new role and fiercely proud of his officers.

“This is my community too. I still coach soccer in Milton. My closest friends are still here. I never left Milton. All my roots, my connections are here,” he says.

To return to the community where it all began, “is not part of my doing, but of my fortune,” he adds.

“I want the people of Milton to know they absolutely have some of the best police, and I want to ensure it stays that way, that the changing needs of this community are met.

“Internally, my role is to make sure I look after my people, that they are equipped and led in a way that allows them to achieve the very best as police officers for this municipality.”

Duraiappah says he will lead by example; he plans to be out in front with his officers and their supervisors so that Miltonians “see us all as one team providing police services for this community.” [courtesy:]


  1. Sandy says:

    Congrtulation and hope more Srilankans will follow and set an example.

  2. T. Siva says:

    Congratulations Nishan. A great report and an inspiring achievement.

  3. Guruparan says:

    I am proud of you Nishan. Make us proud by your career.

    Best Nishan.


  4. Varun Sriskanda says:

    Always glad to see the Sri Lankan community leading by example! Policing is a career field that’s often overlooked by the younger generation in this community, i’m hoping this changes in 2012 and the years to come! Excellent work Inspector.

  5. Kelum Abdulkany says:

    Sri Lanka needs guys like, Nishan Duraiappah!! Good Governance leads to a good police force 🙂
    Sadly, Sri Lanka is crippled by corruption. Honest guy like Nishan Duraiappah will not have a chance

    Under Rajapaksa rule, corruption has become systemic. It is ensconced at the core of the Lankan state as an indispensable tool of governance, a way to reward allies and punish enemies, a method of strengthening familial rule and promoting dynastic succession.

    The Rajapaksa brothers, President Mahinda, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya and economic development minister Basil, occupy the commanding heights of the Lankan state. Blatant tolerance of official corruption is a key characteristic of this Rajapaksa-controlled state. Though corruption, including in very high places, is not alien to Sri Lanka, the current, openly blasé attitude is rather unprecedented. This attitudinal-shift has created a permissive atmosphere, in which official corruption, freed of the stigma and empowered by impunity, is flourishing.

    In October this year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka used his constitutional powers to grant a special pardon to a politician convicted of misusing public funds. The Appeal Court and the Supreme Court had upheld the conviction of Kesara Senanayake, a former mayor of Kandy. Rajapaksa’s timely pardon saved him from a year in prison and made him a free man.

    This November, a bipartisan parliamentary committee accused a state entity, controlled by Presidential sibling minister Basil Rajapaksa, of massive financial malpractices. Last year, environmentalists accused the then air force commander of building an eight-roomed luxury house on a Unesco heritage site. Instead of being prosecuted for breaking the law, Air Marshall Roshan Gunatillake received a promotion, as the Chief of Defence Staff; he also got to keep his illegally constructed house.

    Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, who became transformed from Rajapaksa-ally to Rajapaksa-foe within six months of winning the Eelam War, was found guilty by a military court of financial misappropriation, stripped of his rank, honours and pension and sentenced to a 30-month imprisonment. There was no presidential pardon for him.

    n 2007, the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) contracted hedging deals with five foreign banks. A ministerial sub-committee subsequently revealed that that the contracts were seriously flawed and if enforced would lose the CPC around US$800 million. The CPC chairman who made and defended the deal, Ashantha De Mel, is a Rajapaksa family connection. No legal action was taken against him even though the Supreme Court voided the deal as illegal, and blamed the government for appointing “an unqualified person who had not even passed the GCE Advanced Level examination to a responsible position like the CPC chairmanship”.

    The Rajapaksa-tolerance of corruption, by their own, is encouraging opposition politicians to switch sides in order to evade legal action for financial (and other) misdeeds. Milinda Moragoda was a senior minister in the 2001-2004 UNP administration. In 2009, the Supreme Court accused him of acting in a manner “flawed and marred by various improprieties” when privatising the state-owned insurance giant, Sri Lanka Insurance. Despite this damning pronouncement, no legal action was taken against Moragoda. By then he had switched sides and become a minister in the Rajapaksa regime.

    In its latest findings, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) accuses Maga Neguma (Improving Roads), a state-funded entity under control of Basil Rajapaksa, of defaulting road-contractors of “a massive Rs 1.2 billion”. The defrauded contractors have not sought legal redress because they fear Rajapaksa’s ire, according to a COPE member:“We learnt that some of these contractors have paid huge commissions to certain politicians. They are unable to speak against this injustice openly. If they speak, they will be harassed in various ways…”, he told a newspaper.

    The officials of Maga Neguma act as if they are above the law. They do not submit their accounts to the Auditor General; according to a COPE member,“they even produced letters from the Attorney General’s department to support their argument that the COPE has no powers to probe them”. Such arrogant insouciance is natural in a familial state. Lankan officials, like Lankan politicians, know that they can break laws and contravene rules with impunity, so long as they do not commit the cardinal sin of opposing the Rajapaksas.

    The 17th Amendment to the Constitution set up seven independent commissions to promote good governance. The independent Bribery Commission so born was the entity which investigated the actions of former Mayor Senanayake (who visited Singapore with his wife, using municipal funds granted to him to attend a workshop in Taiwan). By the time the convicted Senanayake got his presidential pardon, the Bribery Commission that enabled his successful prosecution had lost its independence. The Rajapaksa-introduced 18th Amendment turned independent commissions into presidential appendages by empowering the president to hire and fire their members at will.

    The 18th Amendment also placed the Elections Commissioner (and the inspector-general of police) under presidential control. The Elections Commissioner was disempowered from acting to prevent the misuse of state resources by government-politicians during election times. As the deputy elections commissioner explained,“With the passage of the 18th Amendment, the commissioner no longer had constitutional powers to appoint a competent authority to ensure balanced media coverage”. The 18th Amendment has thus rendered corrupt electoral practices partially legal, making it easier for the Rajapaksas to win elections.

    Under Rajapaksa Rule, Sri Lanka is a state-in-transition from a flawed democracy into a One-Family State. Creating a new legality is an essential component of this transformation. This includes institutionalising and normalising corruption. In the emerging state, corruption is an instrument wielded with impunity by the Rajapaksas to enhance their power.

    When rulers tolerate corruption and protect the corrupt, corruption, while remaining a crime in law, ceases being a crime in fact. As corruption flourishes in open sight and the corrupt get away scot-free, public perception of corruption too undergoes a radical transition. From a social-solecism corruption becomes a new norm. People begin to regard corruption as an esoteric issue which is of little relevance to them.

    Such a public perception can become an insurmountable impediment to the creation of a mass movement against corruption, unless, and until, people realise that corruption impedes development and undermines their own living standards.

  6. James Mather - UK says:


  7. manuri-toronto says:

    Absolutely wonderful to read on a new years day…..

  8. Subra S.Massey says:

    He will do a fine job, rest assured. We need more Tamils to enter public service

  9. vishvajith says:

    Best Wishes to you Inspector Duraiappah.

  10. Mudiyanse says:

    Dear Nishan Putha,

    I thank DBSJ for this lovely sketch about you which opened my readings for the New Year 2012. Your resolution is a very impressive statement which should set a great example to the younger generation. It is impregnated with so much of fresh, noble and smart ideas that upon reading the clip Milton and Halton Hills residents undoubtedly must have enjoyed a feeling of protection in a big way. I wish you the very best for a successful career !


  11. silva says:

    Please come and train the politicians in Sri Lanka on how not to interfere in the work of the police.

    Wish you all the best in the New Year, Nishan.

  12. WIGNARAJAH says:


  13. Santhi says:

    Congratulations Nishan Duraiappah

  14. Ratna says:

    Congrats Nishan. We are proud of your achievement. Your Parents did a great job.
    Gain to Canada, lost to Srilanka. There are so many Nishans stepped out of Srilanka & gain for the rest of the world.

  15. Ilangai Thamilan says:

    When I read about I.P. Nishan Duraiappah I think about Sri Lanka. Inspector Nishan is from a City Police, not from Provincial or Federal. And see how municipal, provincial, and federal police forces in Canada work in unity giving and getting mutual support. Where in Sri Lanka we are not even willing to give Police powers to provinces. Reason given by big boss, if they (N&E) are given police powers even I (the Executive President of the country) can’t go to North & East.

    What a joke? Look at Sri Lankan Police to see how backward we are, Traffic is jelous about Crimss, Crimes is jealour about Narcotic, Regulars are jealous about Reservists and the list goes on and on. If provinces are given police powers I am sure Federal Police will be jealous about Provincial Police. What else to expect? We are still a third world country with a forth world? mentality.

    Wish you all the best IP Nishan,

  16. sivapathasuntharam says:

    Well done young man. You could not have achieved all this if you remained here
    I would like to congradulate your parents, rather than you, for bringing up a son like you with principles. Main thing is to continue this thinking

  17. Tamil says:

    I know at least one fine young (English Tamil) man with Bachelors and Masters degrees in law and criminology is rising up the ranks of London Police. DBSJś next article could be about him! Who knows?

  18. Kshama says:

    Congratulations and wish you all the best. You do us proud.

  19. S. Wickramasinghe says:

    As a true Sri Lankan of belonging to the Sinhala race I am so very proud of you Nishan. Wish you all the very best in your career and very proud of your achievements. Keep up the good work and fly the country’s flag.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Nishan, I hope that he will reach the top and be the Chief one day.
    I wish to mention that the writer has used this as a forum to attack the Sri Lanka. What a cheap shot ?

  21. kugan says:

    Which country

  22. Ilaya Seeran Senguttuvan says:

    This photograh bears much similarity to my respected friend – former DIG R. Sunderalingam – one of the finest
    and most respected Police officers of recent times. He was trusted implicitly by JRJ’s Govt and the TULF. Sunda opted to leave Sri Lanka in the late 90s when he found governance declining to levels when honest Policemen could not function without compromising principles. If he stayed he could have ended up as IGP. His reputation was such
    he was gladly welcome by INTERPOL in France – that he served with distinction for decades. He now lives in retirement with his wife in Chennai.

    Young Nishan. hopefully, will reach greater heights bringing all of Sri Lanka and the
    Tamil community much recognition and happiness.


  23. BL says:

    i still remember when you were wet behind the ears…!! nice to see a good fella get ahead…………..

  24. Nephew with a J says:

    Good Job Nishan anna coming from your family in toronto

  25. Viresh Fernando says:

    Nishan’s late father and his mother are close family friends whom I first met when they together with Nishan first arrived in Canada. I have fond memories of Nishan as a shy youngster very respectful of his many maternal aunts and hardly answering my questions as to what he wanted to be when he “grew-up”

    Nishan’s uncle was the mayor of Jaffna, the late Alfred Duraiappah the first victim of the LTTE who was personally executed by Vallupullai Prabhakaran. When Alfred’s sisters who resided in Canada arrived In Sri Lanka to attend their brother’s funeral then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranayake ordered that they be transported by helicopter from Colombo to Jaffna.

    Nishan’s father who was a supervisor at a large Canadian bank used his authority to secure jobs for any Sri Lankan immigrant who asked him, not caring a wit whether they were Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher or whether they were Hindu, Christian or Buddhist.

    It took me two hours to walk through the parking lot at the annual “Tamil Picnic” held on July 26, 1983 which was organized by Nishan’s aunts and their friends because each group of men who were milling around their cars, as soon as they saw me would say “Malli, have a drink / Malli, have a vadai/patties / Malli, here is a beer”, Malli, why are you so late” etc. None of us of course knew till the next day that what I later dubbed the “Carnage in Colombo” was in full progress. Till July 26, 1983 the Burghers, Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils of Toronto were a completely united community – united in our isolation, our tiny numbers and and in our relative “newness” to Canada. That world changed on July 27, 1983 as we found out about the latest violence. In my humble opinion the four communities in Toronto will never be able to be united again.

    While I was always called “Malli” by Nishan’s parents and their friends; family to the ever respectful Nishan and his cousins I was “Uncle Malli” this strange man who drank scotch and disco danced with their parents yet was hardly taller than the children!

    The last time I met Nishan he was barely a teenager. Nishan’s father had been felled by a sudden heart attack. It was a brutally cold day when we were laying Nisahn’s father to rest. Every prayer we said, every hymn we sang, every rose we tossed on the coffin as it slowly descended into the frozen earth, was an act of sheer willpower, as we the Sri Lankans we are and will always be, were woefully under dressed and so incapable of warding off the bone chilling arctic wind that swirled around us in the Milton cemetery.

    Nishan, I have no doubt that you lat Dad and your late aunty Stella, both safe in the arms of Jesus, are singing the praises of the Lord for the favours bestowed upon you.

    Fare thee well!

    “Uncle Malli” AKA Viresh Fernando
    Toronto, Canada.

  26. Jimmy says:


    I am very proud of you as a Srilankan Tamil
    God bless you

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