Police chief pledges cultural change, again
Mayor Eddie Francis stands by decision to hire internally, despite optics
Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick pledged again Thursday to bring cultural change to the Windsor Police Services.
Frederick was named to the department’s top spot at a media conference and immediately promised to continue cleaning up the embattled service.
"Misconduct may occur. Let’s be frank. But what is important is the response by the organization, not my response, but peer-to-peer response to that conduct," Frederick said. "We have demonstrated during the last nine months that people are willing to take those difficult steps to hold those people accountable."
Frederick takes reign of a police department that has been involved at least three high-profile scandals during the last two years:
- Windsor police Const. Brad Snyder pleaded guilty to assaulting Rod Wuschenny on Sept. 26, 2009.
- Windsor Police Det. David Van Buskirk was sentenced to five months in after he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in an unprovoked attack on legally blind Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan in April 2010.
- Kent Rice, a 12-year veteran of the force, has been charged and suspended with pay after video surfaced showing him allegedly kicking and punching a non-combative black man in stairwell in February of this year.
When asked why he didn’t do more to prevent the misconduct while he was deputy chief, Frederick said "organizational charts" and "legislation" prevented him from doing so.
"I had a role to play, which was not making those decisions at that time. It was a difficult time for all of us," he said. "I think many people think we could have done more. We all struggle with that."
Frederick said he will review what he called "the hierarchal reporting lines" as part of an action plan.
Mayor Eddie Francis, who chairs the police board, understands the community may question why a department with so many problems chose an internal candidate to fix them. But he stands by the decision.
"It would have been irresponsible for us to make the political decision and not the right decision," Francis said.
Frederick was named interim chief after Gary Smith abruptly retired during the Van Buskirk scandal.
He was part of the team that launch Project Accountability, a 27-point plan to clean up the department.
"We’re accepting of change. The cultural change is nothing new to us. It’s ongoing. It’s something we all embrace at every level of the organization. It’s something we’re looking forward to," Frederick said.
Mayor Eddie Francis, who also chairs the police board, praised Frederick’s leadership during the last nine months and called him "the best candidate for the job."
Even Francis, though, said the more than 400 officers must also accept responsibility for their actions.
"This is not about one individual or about a chief or deputy chief. We have collectively have come together and collectively assumed the responsibility of moving this organization forward," Francis said. "The membership, the rank and file, the senior command have taken ownership of ensuring they move this organization forward.
"We will not be measured by our words. We will be measure by our results. We are prepared to deliver great results."