Should Hamilton renew police Chief Glenn De Caire's contract?
Perspectives from Hamilton leaders and community members
Glenn De Caire has been chief of the Hamilton Police Service since the end of 2009. The service's oversight board is expected to discuss extending his contract for another three years Thursday. The extension would not come until the end of 2016, but the board must let De Caire know by the end of the year if they intend to search for a new chief.
While compiling some highlights and controversies of his tenure, CBC Hamilton asked a few local leaders and community members: Should the chief's contract be extended?
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
"We were looking for a strong, commanding control presence [in 2009]. I saw that in Glenn De Caire then and I see that in Glenn De Caire now. I believe he's done what we've asked him to do.
"This chief isn't perfect. This mayor isn't perfect, nor is our city. In my opinion he's done a very effective, important job."
Eisenberger praised the chief on his mental health and Taser initiatives and said "by and large" crime is down on De Caire's watch. He said he would have expected the chief to do a "full public apology" after a controversial racial statement was forwarded to the service with the chief's signature on it.
"I don't believe for a second racially motivated were anything that he believes or espouses, but it shouldn't have gone out under his name," Eisenberger said. "I accept that he's made some gaffes but he's also made some positive change."
Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Association
Drewitt declined to comment on whether the chief's contract should be renewed.
But she praised the service's ACTION and mounted teams downtown.
"Over the last five years this chief has been very supportive of the policing approaches that have happened downtown," she said.
Frances Jewell, executive director of the Hamilton Mental Health Rights Coalition
"No. I don't view him as a community chief. A community police officer. I view him as being an autocrat. Not necessarily helpful to moving Hamilton into being the best place to live."
The community should remember there's another side to efforts to "clean up" downtown, Jewell said.
"It looks to me like the most vulnerable in the city are targeted," she said. "I've witnessed some of that. They're not stopping me, the middle-aged white woman. They're stopping other people."
She said she was disappointed not to be included in an advisory group convened after Steve Mesic was shot by police in 2013. She was involved in a Taser-specific group last year.
Clint Twolan, president of the Hamilton Police Association (union)
"When [De Caire] came there was this overall feeling, not just externally but internally that the service needed to go in a different direction, needed more structure. When you bring someone like Glenn De Caire in who's an autocrat, he brings discipline in the way that you run your business.
"That has a life span. It's a good thing for a certain period of time. But then you have to reevaluate and take a step back.
"When you have that management style, it leads to, in my opinion and what the survey results have shown, that 'culture of fear'. You get that stagnation of creativity.
"I think it's time for change. It's not a personal thing; it's based on the survey. The overwhelming feeling is that it's time for change."
"I can honestly say that it's been a marked improvement under the police chief. It's been much better. It's not perfect by any stretch. [With the ACTION team], police are more visible. Their presence, I think it makes everybody feel safer."
"[De Caire]'s been very proactive and he understands the situation right in the downtown core."
Michael Dixon, sued Hamilton Police for wrongful arrest
Dixon's wrongful arrest case (which took place before De Caire was brought in) was settled and the service agreed to adopt some changes, such as formally acknowledging that racial profiling exists in policing. Dixon focused his comments on the practice of street checks, also known as "carding".
"I don't have a position, because I honestly don't think it matters. I think that the tactics, the practice of policing is not entirely up to the chief.
"Let me try to be really hopeful and positive. Perhaps it's possible for De Caire or any new police chief to take a stand and be proactive in policing and end carding as we know it, and actually not rely on it as a crutch. When they say that it helps with solving crime, it's not really proven yet if it is valuable."
Ismael Traore, anti-racism advocate
"That Ruth Goba, the previous head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, publicly admonished Chief De Caire for practicing and supporting racial profiling, this indicates that the Chief is not fit as a leader for an agency that deals with life, security, and death. He has failed the crucial litmus test, and from there, many other human and civil rights litmus tests.
"The Police Board should not renew Chief De Caire's contract."
Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor
"Now is the time for us to move toward a community policing model. I hear from residents and front line officers that we need to move together toward a policing model that is built on trust, not fear.
"I've been concerned about statements made by Chief De Caire over the past year. Most recently, the Hamilton Police Association released a survey showing a clear majority of officers within the force believe change at the top is needed. In the past year, community groups, residents, and the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission Ruth Goba have also voiced their concerns.
I urge the Police Board to listen to these residents, stakeholders, and front line officers, when deciding the future of Chief De Caire's contract."
Chief Glenn De Caire
Our members do outstanding work in our community every single day and I remain proud to be part of this great team.
"The honour of representing this Service is guided by a personnel contract between the Board and the Chief. I will respect the confidentiality of personnel matters and any discussions must take place directly with the Board."
What do you think? Vote in our poll
Elsewhere: Readers weighed in on our Facebook page. The former president of the police officers' union wrote a commentary for the Spectator calling for the chief's contract to end. A petition calling for De Caire's replacement had more than 160 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
What do you think? Vote in our poll above and write your thoughts in the comments below.