Longtime Toronto Police Service member Scott Gilbert has been appointed the ninth chief of the Peterborough Police Service.
The Peterborough Police Services Board made the announcement on Thursday morning.
Gilbert, 56, will take over from Chief Murray Rodd, who is retiring on July 1, wrapping up a 35-year policing career, with the last decade as Peterborough’s chief.
The current Superintendent of 52 division has spent his entire 38-year policing career with TPS. Gilbert admits he was content to remain in Toronto but his interest in the role piqued after recently helping Peterborough police with some crisis intervention training.
“I saw it as an opportunity to add value to the community in Peterborough,” Gilbert told CHEX News shortly after the board’s announcement.
Gilbert started his career as a cadet and climbed up TPS’ ranks, including roles with the Emergency Task Force, Criminal Investigations Bureau, an inspector in Prosecutive Services and superintendent of several divisions.
He has also served as president of the Toronto Senior Officers Association and a director with the provincial association.
“I don’t see my length of service as an impediment and I don’t see my age as an impediment,” Gilbert said. “I see those as positives because I have a lot of experience and bring a lot to the table as a result.”
Gilbert grew up in Toronto but his father was from Whitney, Ont., about 170 kilometres north of Peterborough so Gilbert often drove through the city en route to the community to visit family. He’ll be relocating to Peterborough with his wife Cynthia. The couple have five children.
“I don’t see myself as ending my career in Peterborough. I see it has helping other people with their careers and mentoring others to add value to the community,” he said.
“I could just as easily stay in Toronto and end my career, but it’s not a question of me wanting to sit on the porch and retire in that regard. I may be in year 38 of policing, but I still have a lot to give.”
Gilbert says he advocates the importance of building community partnerships to build trust and to address issues, noting the opioid crisis is a major concern in both Peterborough and 52 Division in Toronto’s downtown core.
“It requires a lot of people to be at the table,” he said. “Chief Rodd has said you can’t arrest your way out of the opioid problem, and that there needs to be others at it. Harm reduction is a key element of the crisis. We need to prevent people from dying or harming themselves.
“Enforcement by the police is only one small portion of the opioid problem. It’s enforcement around the drug dealers that are taking advantage of the people who are addicted.”
Gilbert is no stranger to the Peterborough Police Service, having trained and worked alongside a few current officers, including Insp. Dan Smith.
“I am coming in as the new guy with my eyes open and my ears open,” Gilbert said. “I’m prepared to work with everybody. I recognize that the Toronto way is not the Peterborough way. We are going to be working together to deal with issues and serve the community.”
Police Board chairman Bob Hall says a press conference next week will have more details in Gilbert’s appointment.
“The board looks forward to working with Gilbert and welcomes his knowledge, experience and expertise to our service,” Hall said.
Gilbert says he’s wants to “drill a little more” into Peterborough’s crime statistics and wants to ensure the community continues to be transparent and open.
“I have a high opinion of the Peterborough Police Service, but what’s really important to me is that the community has a high opinion of the service. That’s going to be the indicator of our success,” Gilbert said.