Kingston police chief Gilles Larochelle retires with emotional goodbye

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Bill Hutchins speaks with Kingston police chief Gilles Larochelle, who is stepping down from his position as chief, ending a nearly 40-year career as a police officer – Jul 18, 2018

After five years in Kingston, and almost 40 years working as a police officer, Kingston police chief Gilles Larochelle announced he will be retiring by the end of 2018.

On Wednesday Larochelle stood in front of a crowd of about 50 people gathered at the Kingston Police station and said he would be leaving with”mixed emotions” — emotions that were sometimes visible during his speech. But for Larochelle, it was time to say goodbye.

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“We do have a shelf-life,” he joked to people in the room.

Larochelle came to Kingston from Ottawa, where he served on the police force for over three decades under many hats — traffic, media, patrol, criminal investigations, tactical and more — ending his time in the nation’s capital as deputy chief in 2013, when he chose to don the chief’s hat in Kingston.

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Five years later, his contract as chief of Kingston police came up this June, an opportunity he took to finally hang his hat and consider life as a civilian.

But Larochelle decided to stay on as chief until the end of the year to give time for the Kingston Police Services Board to chose his replacement.

Although a successor was not announced on Wednesday, the chief did mention his deputy chief Antje McNeely as a standout during his retirement speech.

McNeely has been with the Kingston Police for 33 years, and five years back, she acted as the interim chief while the board was searching for a new chief. Although she says she doesn’t know who will be chosen for the next chief, she said she would be willing to do the job.

“I would be honoured to be the chief of police,” said McNeely after the chief’s announcement.

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When asked whether Kingston was ready for its first female chief, Larochelle said the decision shouldn’t be about gender.

“But I have had a strong deputy chief as my right hand,” Larochelle added.

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Nevertheless, chair of the Kingston Police Service Board Andrea Risk said that it wouldn’t be focusing on the chief’s replacement on Wednesday, but rather on celebrating Larochelle’s accomplishments.

“Under his direction, Kingston Police achieved several operational successes, including joint-force projects and unprecedented drug seizures,” Risk told the crowd.

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It is unclear when the decision for the chief’s replacement will be made, but Larochelle said he’s focusing on the future, and he plans to retire in the Kingston area.

“I’m going to benefit in my retirement. There’s good safety and security in this community.”

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