The process of finding a new chief for Greater Sudbury's police force is almost at an end, members of the police services board were told Wednesday.
Board Chair Gerry Lougheed Jr. said the head-hunting firm the city hired to find a replacement for former Chief Frank Elsner has narrowed down the list of hopefuls. The next step is interviews, Lougheed said, and then a final decision by late March or early April.
“We have many good candidates,” Lougheed said.
Odgers Berndtson, the head hunting firm leading the search, is well into the process and expects to have a list of names of potential candidates in place in the coming weeks. They're being paid $60,000 for their work. Sharon Baiden, the police's chief administrative officer, said in December that 90 per cent of the chiefs in Canada were hired using Odgers Berndtson, one of five firms that bid on the contract.
They have a database of applicants, she said, including personality profiles, so they can get the best fit for Greater Sudbury.
The new chief will replace Elsner, who left Sudbury late in 2013 and now heads the force in Victoria, B.C. Dan Markiewich is the acting chief of police until a successor is chosen.
New cruisers for city's police force
Ford Canada's Crown Victoria has been a common sight in Sudbury in the the last two decades, as the main cruiser in use by Sudbury's police.
Reliable and nearly indestructible, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has been the most popular cruiser for forces across the continent since 1997. So when Ford discontinued the line in 2011, several departments in North America were forced to look for a replacement. Ford touted a revamped Taurus as the new cop car of choice, but so far it has failed to catch on like the Crown Vic.
Like many other communities, Sudbury is turning to Chrysler's Dodge Charger, whose Pursuit model has been called the fastest police car in the U.S. by Digital Trends magazine. Meeting Wednesday, board members were told the Charger will be gradually introduced as the city replaces older cruisers according to its maintenance schedule. As they have done in the past, purchases will be split between dealers in the city.
Victims of their own success
Revenue from police auctions have traditionally been a big source of funding for programs police either run or support, but that's changing, board members were told this week.
The auctions of stolen goods – bikes, appliances, furnishings, etc. – are popular with the public and helped fund outreach programs for youth, charitable events and other causes. However, crime has fallen in the city – and the police's Break, Enter and Robbery (BEAR) Unit has become particularly adept at locating the owners of stolen property.
“So we just don't have the property for the auctions anymore,” Baiden said.
That means revenue has fallen dramatically, so new ways are needed to raise the money. The board voted to create a subcommittee dedicated to finding a way to replace the lost money, most likely through a regular fundraising event.
More police on bikes this summer
Not only are they getting rid of the Crown Victorias, some city police officers will be parking their cruisers for the summer and taking their bikes, instead.
This summer, six more officers will be added to the bike patrol force, bringing the contingent to 17. Deputy Chief Al Lekun said the public has responded well to police on bikes, which brings them closer to the public.
“It's a different way of policing,” Lekun said. “The public has responded really well. They love it.”
More bike cops will mean more of a presence downtown, where they can interact with people and head off problems just by their presence.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk told board members that her office used to get a lot of complaints from residents and business owners about problems downtown, but with more bike patrols, those complaints have largely stopped.
Patrols should begin in May.
Board chair little too good at fundraising
The inaugural Polar Plunge event in Sudbury is slated for March 1, an event held across Ontario to raise money for the Special Olympics.
It began as a local police fundraiser in Owen Sound several years ago, and now has spread to eight cities across the province.
Plungers get the 'privilege' of jumping into the icy winter water of a local lake – Ramsey Lake, in Sudbury's case -- if they are able to raise enough money. The police board was asked for a $3,000 donation, which they approved.
Acting Police Chief Dan Markiewich said they were trying to raise enough money to convince Deputy Chief Al Lekun to take the plunge, prompting an offer from Lougheed to help.
If anything, that makes him more reluctant, Lekun said, because “Mr. Chair, I don't doubt your ability to raise funds.”
Lougheed has been involved in several major fundraising campaigns, including a $25 million drive for the hospital and, more recently, $3 million for a major expansion of the Finnish Rest Home.