More than five years after he was removed from his role on Peterborough’s Police Services Board, Mayor Daryl Bennett rejoined the board at its Tuesday night meeting.
Bennett was suspended from the board in 2012 after he was accused of misconduct for his rift with the board and the city’s top cops, including alleged disparaging comments about police chief Murray Rodd.
The mayor was often critical of police spending, which was a major point of contention between him and Rodd but he downplayed the conflict.
“It was not a feud in my mind,” Bennett said prior to Tuesday’s board meeting. “It was an action that I thought was necessary and I think the outcome has been appropriate from an operational standpoint.
“I would suggest that the police services act, as I noted in some previous discussions, was an archaic document and I see where the minister is now making inroads in making some changes to that document and he too said it was archaic.”
Still, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) decided to step in and investigate and originally handed 11 misconduct charges to Bennett, 10 of which were later dropped.
Last year, lawyer Mark Sandler was appointed by OCPC to sit on the police services board for six months and file an independent review of the board. Sandler published the report and in it, suggested the mayor never return.
Despite that suggestion, Bennett appointed himself back on the board along with Coun. Dan McWilliams, after Northcrest Coun. Dave Haacke volunteered to give up his seat.
Bennett was officially reinstated to the board on Nov. 30 and will serve a full-year term. The Dec. 5 meeting marked the first time he officially sat as a board member. Bennett said he was glad to be back.
“It’s business of the city and business that needs to be attended to,” he said. “I’m capable of it and the chief is certainly capable of it and the rest of the board people are quite onside with what we are doing.”
There was no red carpet rolled out for the mayor but he and Rodd posed for a photo prior to the meeting, where board chair Bob Hall briefly welcomed the mayor back, before digging into the agenda.
Hall says it’s business as usual.
“Everyone has worked together around that table,” said Hall. “Everyone knows each other and I think the real focus is looking ahead and not what’s happened in the past or what’s behind us and just trying to meet the needs of Peterborough.”
The mayor and McWilliams will both serve out a one-year term on the board, while Rodd is set to retire as chief in 2018. A municipal election is slated for next October.
Following the meeting, Hall praised the mayor and said the meeting was productive.
“The mayor of Peterborough is a very experienced businessman and he brings that business experience and I think we had a very focused, very productive and very positive meeting.”