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Hamilton’s police board seeks public input as they hunt for new chief

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Hamilton’s police board seeks public input as they hunt for new chief

The Hamilton Police Services Board (HPSB) is in the process of recruiting a new police chief and they’re looking for input from the community.

In a press release issued Wednesday (Jan. 27), the board said that they have launched an online survey to get a better grasp of what they should be looking for and considering when going through the hiring process.

“An essential first step in the process is to develop an appreciation for the challenges and opportunities facing the Hamilton Police Service today and over the coming years,” the release said.

“With that as a context, the Board will establish priorities for the incoming Chief, as well as measures of success.”

Late last year, the current Hamilton Police Services (HPS) Chief Eric Girt announced he would be retiring in February 2021.

Girt, who has been a member of the service for more than three decades, was appointed chief back in 2016.

His retirement comes after a particularly tumultuous year for the force which has come under scrutiny for its response to the violent clashes at Pride 2019 as well as its handling of protests outside of City Hall.

An independent review of the events that took place in Gage Park during Pride 2019 found that HPS “fell short” in its preparation for the event that saw attendees clash with protestors.

The findings prompted an apology from Girt and the HPSB.

The ongoing call to Defund the Police has also increased the pressure on HPS to scrutinize its role in the community and policing tactics.

Earlier this month, HPS announced that they had hired a decorated Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Specialist, a first-of-its-kind role for Hamilton Police, in an effort to address major concerns among community members of the service’s lack of diversity.

In its search for a new chief, the HPSB has enlisted the help of Toronto-headquartered consulting firm Odgers Berndtson.

The confidential survey is available online for the community to provide feedback until Feb. 12.

“This will enable the Board, with the assistance of Odgers Berndtson, to develop a meaningful candidate profile in terms of leadership approach and qualifications,” the release said.

“The Board would like to invite members of the Hamilton community and stakeholders to provide their input into this critical appointment.”

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