The Peterborough Police Services Board says the abrupt retirement of former police chief Scott Gilbert was solely his decision.
A media briefing Thursday morning hosted jointly by the Peterborough Police Service and the board was to outline the service’s future. However, many of the media’s inquiries focused on Gilbert, who on Feb. 4 announced to the board he would be retiring three days later.
The board late on Feb. 4 announced deputy police chief Tim Farquharson would be appointed acting police chief until a replacement could be found.
“We wish him (Gilbert) the best of luck and we have to move forward and so that was the course of action,” said board chair Les Kariunas. “He decided to retire. We accepted that decision to move forward. The timeline was quick but that is what we did.”
Efforts to reach Gilbert for comment have been unsuccessful to date. Gilbert removed his social media accounts and has not spoken publicly since his retirement. He was named the police chief in June 2018 following a 38-year career with the Toronto Police Service, serving in a number of roles.
The police service — which traditionally on its social media sites posts congratulations to retiring officers — has not made any mention of Gilbert’s departure.
Kariunas also defended inquiries as to whether officers had filed complaints against Gilbert.
“I can’t say for everybody in the service whether there were complaints or not but in the end, we did our due diligence to ensure we were moving forward in a positive way,” he said. “The chief decided to retire so we need to move forward in that way — it is sudden but we are dealing with it very well.
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“I can tell you from board side there was no need to investigate any further and there is no need for an investigation.”
Kariunas said the board was prepared to support Gilbert but that he decided to retire after speaking with his family.
“He’s been here for three and a half years and felt that moving forward was not something that was personally in his cards,” he said. “After talking it over with his family, he decided to move forward and retire.”
Farquharson said he was informed of Gilbert’s decision to retire on Feb. 4 and that Kariunas inquired that same day if he would fill in as acting chief while they conduct a search for Gilbert’s replacement.
“I said absolutely, I will take that challenge on,” said Farquharson.
The acting police chief says he wishes Gilbert well and that he learned a lot from him.
“He had a vast array of policing knowledge in every area, especially around collective bargaining, the SIU (Special Investigations Unit), OIPRD (Office of the Independent Police Review Director) — very, very strong knowledge, which helped me,” said Farquharson. “That was not a strength of mine before so I learned that.”
As for the service’s future, Farquharson said he hasn’t considered applying to stay in the chief’s role but is ready to improve the service “the best he can.”
“I really haven’t had time to think about it since Friday and I hadn’t thought about it before that,” he said. “Where we are now is concentrating on the service and getting around to every single person in the service and I’m hoping to do that within the next year.”
Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien has declined interview requests on Gilbert’s retirement.
— More to come.
— with files from Tricia Mason/Global News Peterborough