Police board looking at civilian CEO
City could hire someone with more financial background than uniformed officer
The Hamilton police board is exploring the idea of hiring a civilian executive instead of a sworn officer to fill the vacant deputy chief position.
Chair Lloyd Ferguson says the board has struck a three-member committee to investigate the legal and administrative ramifications of making such a change.
He says the board decided to delve into it after a “good conversation” with police chief Eric Girt.
“Certainly we’re all very interested in a civilian CEO as a possibility — someone more seasoned on budgeting, human resources and the other civilian duties that the force provides,” said Ferguson, who also represents Ancaster on city council.
“We’re giving this a lot of thought and getting a lot of professional advice and we’ll report back to the board with a recommendation.”
He says the committee may be in a position to make a recommendation at the board’s June 16 meeting.
If the decision is not to go with a civilian, Ferguson says the board will hire a recruiting firm and most likely launch an external and internal search for a uniformed candidate.
Ferguson first floated hiring a civilian chief executive officer shortly after deputy chief Ken Weatherill unexpectedly announced his retirement in March.
He’s clearly pleased the board picked up on the possibility, which he sees as having the potential benefit of saving money on salary and bringing someone aboard with a stronger financial background than most uniformed officers have.
But moving to a civilian CEO would be a big change that would require a bit of a balancing act.
Hamilton traditionally has two deputies who report to the chief. One is responsible for investigations and community policing. That’s Dan Kinsella, who took over the role last October after former deputy chief Girt moved into the chief ’s chair, vacated by Glenn De Caire.
The other deputy is in charge of “field support,” which includes finance, administration and such corporate services as communications, human resources and professional development. That’s the job vacated by Weatherill.
A Hamilton veteran of 31 years, Weatherill was only deputy chief for two-andhalf years. After retiring from Hamilton, he became deputy police chief in Barrie.
As with any unexpected departures, Weatherill’s sparked all kinds of rumours. Some said he and Girt didn’t get along. Others said he couldn’t get past his disappointment over the board choosing Girt for chief instead of him.
Regardless, the open position needs to be occupied in one form or another. Girt is currently filling it by rotating superintendents into the role of acting deputy chief.
Whether it’s permanently filled by someone wearing civvies or a badge may depend on answers to a few key questions.
Ferguson notes the board certainly has jurisdiction under the Police Services Act to hire the chief and deputies, but it’s unclear if that extends to a civilian CEO.
He also notes that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission has previously ruled that a CEO has to be a member of the police service’s senior officers association.
Ferguson says that could be “problematic,” because the board envisions a CEO working with them on contract negotiations with both the senior officers and rank and file unions.
Additionally, some responsibilities that currently fall on the shoulders of the field support deputy would have to be shifted if a civilian was hired, because they involve commanding sworn officers.
Obviously, a lot of issues need to be worked through and weighed, including this one: Opting for only one deputy chief will automatically reduce the number of internal candidates likely to apply the next time the chief’s job opens up.
Certainly we’re all very interested in a civilian CEO as a possibility. … We’re giving this a lot of thought and getting a lot of professional advice.” LLOYD FERGUSON POLICE BOARD CHAIR