Bernie Morelli is being remembered as a champion of policing in Hamilton.
“He was committed to ensuring that there was safety in this city,” police services board member Nancy DiGregorio said. “He was dedicated to making sure that we as members of the board kept safety in Hamilton at the top of the agenda.”
Morelli, who was a long-standing member, and chair, of the board and city councillor, died on Jan. 14 after battling long-time health issues. He was 70.
Morelli first served as a member of the board from December 1994 to November 1997, acting as chair from 1996 to 1997.
Morelli also served as a member from December 2000 onward, acting as chair from 2000 to 2009. He again was voted chair in mid-October 2013 after Mayor Bob Bratina quit.
DiGregorio, who became a member of the board seven years ago, said Morelli treated all members with dignity and respect.
“He respected their opinions. There were times we agreed to disagree, but we did that with the best of governance,” she said. “At no time was Bernie ever disrespectful to a board member’s comments or to what a board member had to say. He always received it and received it well.”
Morelli also served as president of the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards from 2006 to 2007.
Board vice-chair and Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson said Morelli’s love of policing was unmatched.
“For those that knew Bernie, it was evident he had a love of policing and the important role our police personnel play in our community,” he said in a statement released on Jan. 15. “His passion ran deep and close to home for his beloved Hamilton Police Service. His commitment to the board and policing is unparalleled among his council colleagues and his insight and leadership on the board will be missed.”
DiGregorio said Morelli strived to ensure that policing in Hamilton was the best that it could be.
“He always reminded us of the fact that as police board members and as a governing body of the police services, our commitment was to make sure that Hamilton is a safe city. He was very grounded in that. He will be a great loss to the board,” she said. “He’ll be a loss, really, to the citizens of this community. Bernie died on the job, he died serving this community. We will miss him.”
Members of the board were expected to discuss the vacant chair position at their Jan. 21 meeting.
“According to the Police Services Act, we are required to elect a chair at the January meeting,” DiGregorio said last week. “I can only assume that a part of the agenda will be the election of a chair.”
For additional tributes to Councillor Bernie Morelli click here.