It seems the Kingston police services board didn’t have to look far for their new police chief. Officials promoted within, announcing that Deputy Chief Antje McNeely will become the force’s 17th police chief to take the role. The news came down in a special announcement Thursday morning.
It’s the first time in Kingston that a woman will lead the city’s men and women in blue. McNeely is a veteran cop of 33 years — all of them spent on the Kingston police force. This includes taking lead of the force already as deputy chief since 2011. She tells Global News although it’s a milestone, it’s not just about being a woman.
“It’s really about being qualified and being able to the job. It’s about being able to effect change and doing it for the betterment of the community.”
The experienced police officer seemed to be the obvious choice when the board set out to search for someone to take the position. From the moment outgoing Chief Gilles Larochelle announced his retirement — he stated his goal from the beginning was to mentor leadership from within. Board member and Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson says this selection is just evidence of that success.
“I think it is clear that when Chief Larochelle came in, that was the vision, that was the goal to be able to cultivate talent within.”
McNeely, a Kingston native joined the police force in 1985. Through her role as a police officer, staff sergeant and deputy chief, she says her experience comes from a range of different mentors.
“You learn a lot from everybody that you work with,” says McNeely. “A lot of the retirees have been part of my mentoring as I’m growing up, so we take the best from the best.”
Earlier in her career, Mcneely received numerous commendations from the Crown Attorney’s Office for her efforts in sexual assault and child abuse investigations. She’s also been a key stakeholder in a committee working at the local level to help end domestic and sexual violence. After 33 years on the force, McNeely says she’s ready for a new challenge.
“What excites me is not staying the same but that challenge of getting better and doing more within the organization,” McNeely says.
Mayor Paterson says, with her passion to be involved within the community and wealth of experience, both in-house and in the city of Kingston, she was the perfect candidate.
“I’ve always found Antje to be very engaged, very informed and always accessible to both us and the community.”
The act of choosing a leader already working within the existing police force, marks the first time in 24 years the top cop has been chosen internally.
The announcement comes just two months after an emotional farewell from Larochelle. He came to Kingston from the Ottawa police force in 2013 and spent five years leading Kingston’s police. Once he finishes here, he will end his career of 40 years as a police officer.
Larochelle will hand the reins to incoming Chief-designate McNeely, in a change-of-command ceremony on Nov. 30.
Kingston police are now searching for a deputy chief to replace McNeely.