Edmonton police chief announces early exit

Ryan Cormier and Ben Gelinas
October 01, 2010
By Ryan Cormier and Ben Gelinas
Sep 08 2010 EDMONTON - Edmonton's police chief will resign at the end of 2010, a year before the end of his contract.

Sep 08 2010

EDMONTON - Edmonton's police chief will resign at the end of 2010, a year before the end of his contract.

Mike Boyd made the announcement Tuesday, citing concerns for his family.

"My decision, while not easy, comes as a result of my renewed commitment to striking a balance between my family life and my professional responsibilities," Boyd said. "My wife Margo and I both have aging and ailing parents in Eastern Canada who we need to be in close proximity to."

Boyd's current contract was slated to end on Dec. 31, 2011. The chief said his decision had nothing to do with a fainting spell he suffered during a June meeting.

"It absolutely played no part. In fact, my doctor told me I'm probably in better shape today than I've been in eight to 10 years," he said.

In 2006, Boyd was plucked from his first retirement to lead the Edmonton Police Service. His contract was renewed in 2008 for a three-year term. The Edmonton Police Commission was hoping to sign Boyd to another three-year contract.

"Certainly, we are disappointed to lose such a great leader, but we respect Chief Boyd's decision and wish him all the best," commission chair Brian Gibson said.

By contract, Boyd is required to give the commission three months notice and will continue his job until the end of 2010. If a new chief is not found by then, an interim will be named, Gibson said.

The commission intends to use an executive search firm to identify potential candidates within the Edmonton Police Service and from other police forces across Canada.

Boyd said the current stability and leadership of the EPS, at all levels, made this an opportune time for him to step back.

At times during his announcement at police headquarters, the outgoing chief appeared sad -- particularly when gathered officers applauded him. He said he was honoured and privileged to lead the EPS for five years, and he won't leave any of his goals undone by departing early.

Boyd said the EPS, during his tenure, had become more citizen-centred, more efficient and addressed concerns about a lack of professionalism among some officers.

"The community expressed concerns about professionalism and transparency. To address that, regarding our use of force, we dramatically decreased the number of incidents where force is used, especially with the (Taser)."

Sgt. Tony Simioni, president of the Edmonton Police Association, acknowledged that Boyd faced severe criticism from officers at times during his tenure, but opinions of him among the rank-and-file have improved. "In fairness, it took him a while, but by the end of his tenure, he did a pretty good job in terms of turning morale around and doing some of these things he talked about today."

The association president pointed to all three deputy chiefs and the ranks of superintendents as possible placements, but said he wanted no limits put on the national search.

Before coming to Edmonton, Boyd had a long policing career in Toronto, where he rose to the rank of deputy chief.

He was brought in to lead the EPS during a turbulent time. Edmonton recorded 39 homicides in 2005, the most in the city's history. The three chiefs who came before him were either pushed out or fired, and public distrust appeared to be mounting.

Among the most outspoken critics of the Edmonton Police Service in recent years has been Tom Engel. The chair of the Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association's policing committee has acted on the behalf of many complainants against the police and also represented officers brought in by the chief on disciplinary charges.

Engel praised Boyd for improving accountability with Taser use and bolstering the internal affairs system. While Boyd at times appeared disconnected from officers, Engel said EPS was "far better off" during his tenure.

"He lasted over four years without any major controversy and resigned on his own terms, which I'm sure is a big relief for Edmontonians."

Mayor Stephen Mandel praised Boyd's ability to reach out to people. "Mike has been a tremendous advocate for community policing, of getting involved in communities, and doing by leadership and doing by action."

(Edmonton Journal)

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