Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch to retire in 2019
Mayor says national search for a new police chief will be launched sometime in the new year
Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch will retire in 2019 after two terms in the force's top job.
The retirement was announced, albeit somewhat low-key, when Deputy Chief Martin Gaudet told Fredericton city council that there would be a change at the top of the force next year during a routine police budget presentation.
Fitch said it had been her plan to retire in 2019.
"That's the end of my second term contract as chief and I had one year as acting before that," said Fitch
"That's been my plan and my goal."
Tragedy shakes capital city
Fitch was a well-known figure even before her time as chief. But in Fredericton, she was thrust into the national spotlight after the Aug. 10 shootings left four people dead.
The victims included two of her officers, Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns.
Fitch said the shooting weighed on her mind as her retirement approached.
"Prior to Aug. 10 I was very excited, looking forward to my retirement in June," said Fitch.
"Post Aug. 10 I have very mixed emotions at retiring at a time that has been so difficult for our department."
Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien said the move will be a "big change" that will require some management.
"You lose your leader, especially after you've been forged in fire like in the Aug. 10 incident," said O'Brien.
"It'll be change and change is always difficult."
Controversy in police force
Fitch's time as chief also came with some controversy for the force.
Under her leadership a number of Fredericton police officers were outed for alleged improprieties.
Const. Michael Cook pleaded guilty to defrauding the New Brunswick Police Association of more than $5,000.
Former officer Cherie Campbell was fired after allegedly attempting to shoplift $20 of makeup from a department store in Houlton, Maine.
Const. Darrell Ian Brewer was found guilty of impaired driving.
And the force was found to have broken New Brunswick's Official Languages Act in a ruling from the New Brunswick Police Commission.
What happens next?
Fitch said she did not know when her replacement would be announced.
O'Brien also gave no specific date, but said the city would perform a nationwide search.
"Sometime in the new year we'll be doing a national search," said O'Brien.
"[We'll] be putting a review committee together to make sure we get a great candidate to carry on the work she's done for us."
When asked if there were any candidates in the city's ranks, O'Brien wouldn't speculate, but said an in-house application would be far from a guarantee.
"Nobody has an in on that job," said O'Brien.
"We have some great candidates internally, should they wish to apply, but we will be doing a national search."
Fitch's last day as Fredericton's top cop will be June 10, 2019.