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‘Transparent’ board sets sights on hiring new chief

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

The chair of Hamilton’s police services board says he expects the search for a new police chief to begin by early next year at the latest.

Councillor Bernie Morelli said the board’s first task will be to determine the selection process now that it has formally accepted Chief Glenn De Caire’s resignation, which takes effect at the end of next year.

“It involves determining the nature of the candidate, internal/external, do you use a consultant, do you not use a consultant, the interview process itself, the design of the interview process and certainly getting any feedback from the community as to what they see as a new chief should be,” he said. “Those are the kind of things we’ll go through.”

The board met behind close doors for about two hours at an unannounced meeting Dec. 2 to decide whether to accept the resignation tendered by De Caire in early September.

Morelli declined to say how board members voted.

“It wasn’t a unanimous vote,” he said. “It was agreed we would accept his resignation. Not everyone – although most – the majority agreed.”

When asked why the board provided no notice of the meeting, Morelli referred a reporter to board administrator Lois Morin.

In an email, Morin said the Police Services Act allows the board to hold an in-camera meeting on personnel matters.

“They are not required to give notice of the meeting,” she said.

Morelli said a Hamilton Spectator reporter learned of the meeting and “people knew that we were going to deal with this issue.”

The board did not issue a press release or notice of the meeting on its website. The website only lists the board’s regular meetings, generally held the third Monday of each month.

“We had to deal with it somewhere. And actually, it really was just the formality of having a discussion, a further discussion and certainly the outcome had to be made,” Morelli said. “In other words, it had to be dealt with and the outcome is what’s important, really. The bottom line in all of it would be that our and certainly my clear commitment is to make this thing as transparent and as open as we can and it should be.”

De Caire declined to be interviewed for a story about his stepping down in September. He chose instead to post his announcement on the Hamilton Police Service website on Sept. 3.

De Caire offered no explanation for his decision, focusing nearly all of his written statement on what he characterized as police successes since he took up the helm in 2009.

Cited accomplishments included: a rise in enforcement levels of over 50 per cent from 2008, an increase in arrests from a yearly average of 7,200 to the 2012 level of 8,600, four of five budgets under four per cent from 2009 to 2013 and a decrease in violent crime severity of 19 per cent in 2012 – the largest in the country.

Morelli said he’s not going to speculate on De Caire’s reasons for stepping down.

“He filed a letter of resignation. We responded,” he said. “He’s done an outstanding job. We’re appreciative and grateful for the leadership that he’s provided.”

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