Saskatoon’s board of police commissioners announced their pick for the next top cop Wednesday afternoon, tabbing current Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper to fill the big chair.
Cooper comes to Saskatoon after serving in the Prince Albert Police Service for 31 years.
Before becoming the Prince Albert chief in 2012, he had served as a deputy chief, inspector in charge of the criminal investigations unit and in a variety of detective and street cop roles.
He told reporters at a news conference he was excited for the opportunity.
“It’s an incredible, professional police service,” he said. “I’m very humbled.”
The Big River man acknowledged there would be an economy of size to get used to while transferring from Prince Albert to Saskatoon.
However, he said the team already in place in Saskatoon would help him hit the ground running.
He complimented the leadership team, including interim chief Mark Chatterbok, for holding down the fort since Clive Weighill retired in the fall.
“The office of the chief is a chaos that doesn’t stop, and they took the reins,” Cooper remarked. “They kept the service running seamlessly.”
Cooper will be sworn in on Feb. 28 at city hall.
His contract runs through to 2023, when the police board can decide to renew it or seek another leadership option.
Board Chair Darlene Brander said they were impressed by more than the Prince Albert cop’s resume.
“Troy’s ability to connect with the community was something we looked at and really valued,” she said.
NEW CHIEF, NEW CHALLENGES
Cooper also addressed what he believes will be top priorities as he takes over the Saskatoon Police Service.
He noted a police operations audit is due to come down shortly after he arrives, which will be reviewed by senior staff for recommendations that can be implemented.
“We can always grow,” he said. “And in the face of budget restraint and shifting policing models, we must grow.”
Cooper also said the police service will have to watch closely as marijuana is legalized later this year.
He noted officers will require new training and resources, but with the laws still developing they still don’t know exactly what they’ll need.
The new chief said the service is working on an enforcement policy for current cannabis rules until legalization is official.
Earlier this week, Regina’s police chief announced they would crack down on pot dispensaries.
Cooper was also asked about his position on carding, the practice of officers asking members of the public for their identification during a street patrol.
He said patrol officers get to know their areas, and often know when something is off.
“The actions of an officer when they find someone suspicious in a neighbourhood have to continue,” he said. “The officer has to be able to do his job.”
He acknowledged the practice was controversial, specifically due to concerns over racial minorities being targeted by police.
“If there’s bias … that’s where you run into trouble,” he said. “We can correct that … through strong messaging and policy.”