VICTORIA - Victoria’s police board has selected a successor to retiring chief Jamie Graham, but the decision remains in limbo because of an unexpected shakeup in the board.
Greater Sudbury police chief Frank Elsner had been selected Friday as the next Victoria police chief, sources tell the Times Colonist.
Elsner, 50, who has three decades of policing experience in Ontario, joined the Greater Sudbury police force as deputy chief in 2007 and rose to top cop in 2009.
Just two days after agreeing on the preferred candidate for chief, the four provincially appointed board members were told to turn in their security cards because their terms would not be renewed.
The departures leave the board short of the five-member quorum required to finalize the selection of the new chief.
No reason has been given for the board shakeup or why it comes at such a critical time.
Roy Cullen, one of the provincial appointees, said “it’s crazy” to let go four members right near the end of the months-long chief selection process.
“We had a lot of things we were working on, not the least of which was an appointment of a new chief,” Cullen said. “The biggest job that the police board has is the hiring of a chief constable. Now [four members] are just gone, so we've lost that continuity,” he said. “I’m baffled by it.”
University of Victoria labour relations expert Ken Thornicroft says it’s rare to have four police board members leave at once.
Until the board ratifies the decision on the new police chief, there is no binding contract of employment, he said.
“It will be up to the new board to ratify that candidate or perhaps they’ll select another candidate or start fresh from a new crop of candidates,” Thornicroft said.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who is vice-chairwoman of the police board, said interviews with the final two candidates for chief took place in Victoria on Friday, but she would not confirm Elsner was the top choice.
“We have notified the [preferred] candidate but there’s still a number of things that need to be done,” such as negotiating the exact terms of the contract, Desjardins said Tuesday.
Desjardins said she was also surprised to learn the four provincial appointees — Karen Kesteloo, Lindalee Brougham, Gordy Dodd, and Roy Cullen — have not been renewed.
In a statement Tuesday, Attorney General Suzanne Anton said, “With the mayors and two council-nominated municipal board members in place, I do recognize the board is currently one member short of a quorum. I can assure you that finalizing our provincial appointments is a priority for government.”
Anton also said interviews have been done and the province is about to select the candidates.
“This process will [be] complete in the near future and I don’t expect it to hinder the hiring of a new police chief for Victoria,” the statement said.