McAlpine act within the rules
Pete Fisher Northumberland Today Port Hope Police Chief Kevin McAlpine. Port Hope Council on Tuesday evening. September 11, 2012
The Port Hope Police Services Board said the chief of the Port Hope Police Service has acted within the procedures of the board regarding recent hirings and promotions.
Recently Chief Kevin McAlpine signed an extension for his contract that expires in April 2015.
McAlpine was 59 years old when he was sworn in as police chief in 2010.
The Chief of Police has a long list of accomplishment’s over his nearly four decades of policing which started in 1972 - including being both the Chief of Peterborough and Durham Regional Police Service. In 2005 he became a professor at Durham College involved in teaching justice and emergency planning.
Recently a promotion process took place for the police service regarding the position of acting staff sergeant.
Though traditionally with other police services, a panel of three are on the committee to choose a successful applicant, in this case, in a release put out by the service, Chief McAlpine was a one-man committee for the internal competition including interviews of the Sergeants applying for the position.
“(This was due to) time constraints - and no one else was available but me,” said McAlpine during an interview on Friday.
McAlpine said selecting a person for the position of “acting” staff sergeant is not an uncommon decision for a chief to make solely.
For a panel of three to be on a committee, McAlpine said there would only be Deputy Chief Hull and himself.
“We haven’t got a panel of three to start with.”
But Cobourg Police Service over the last several years uses a committee of three, two from the service, and one from outside the service of equal or higher rank for the position.
“If we were actually promoting a staff sergeant full bore, no “acting” and had no time constraints then presumably the deputy and I - we might well do the same thing.”
But the intent of the position of staff sergeant will most likely lead to retaining that position, inspector, or deputy chief.
“The Board has not decided at what rank the second in command of the Port Hope Police Service is going to be,” said McAlpine.
“Under the Police Services Act if the board decides that’s going to be a deputy chief, then that is their selection and process, not mine. If they decide it’s going to be lower than deputy chief then that falls to me.”
“Until that decision is made, I can’t predict the outcome.”
Previously when the service promoted sergeants in the service, there were a panel of three on the committee for the process and interviews.
The new acting staff sergeant was chosen on Jan. 4 and will take over in an acting capacity as second-in-command of the police service on March 1.
Since the McAlpine has been Chief of Police for Port Hope, he has been on a panel of three where two of the constables who were hired, were his former students.
But McAlpine doesn’t think it was a conflict of interest.
“They were the best applicants.”
Although someone who applied for an advertised constable position may think they have a lower chance of getting the position knowing the chief sits on the committee that makes the decision.
“At some point people have to make decisions on their choices and my job at the end of the day is to recommend candidates to the board for appointment. Whether I participate in the competition or not, I’m still the final sign-off.”
“Probably the next time we’re hiring recruits I won’t participate, probably until the final decision-making process.”
McAlpine said the police service is a “small organization” and sometimes it comes down to whomever is available to participate.
“You can’t be pulling people out of the front line - you still have to do the police work.”
Although the two officers hired are “top notch,” the chief admits in the future the process will be different.
When asking Police Services Board chair Liz Stewart if the board was aware of McAlpine solely conducting the process in deciding the acting staff sergeant and if they knew McAlpine was the former teacher of two of the constables and he was on the hiring committee, Stewart would only say, “The only comment I can add is that the chief has full operational authority under the Act and works within the procedures of the board.”