Chief Mark Neelin turns in his badge in March
Former Barrie Police chief Mark Neelin.
Barrie Police Chief Mark Neelin is turning in his badge and will retire as the city's top cop on March 31, 2013.
“There are decisions in life and decision points in life that you reach, and I reached one,” said Neelin, 55. “There's a million reasons and there's one reason really. It's just that I have decided it's a time in my life to move on and retire. I've decided now is the appropriate time to retire and enjoy the retirement life.”
Neelin said he fully expected to be chief for five years when he took the job in the spring of 2010, and that it's been an honour and privilege to serve as Barrie police chief.
“It's certainly been very personally challenging, a dynamic position that's certainly different every day,” he said. “It is a demanding position. There's no two shakes about that.
“It's a real melting pot of responsibility, and job tasks the chief has to deal with, for sure.”
Doug Jure, chairman of the city police board, said it will start looking for a new police chief in January. That appointment will coincide with the change of command anticipated in April 2013.
Neelin has been police chief since July 1, 2010. Jure said the previous police board, which hired him, had no expectation of a short term.
“I don't think there was a conscious decision that he would leave earlier than the expected five years, but frankly it's his option to do so, his personal decision to do so, and we have to accept that,” he said. “We're sorry to see him go ahead of schedule.”
Barrie's last police chief, Wayne Frechette, served two five-year terms.
Jure said the police board will formally accept Neelin's decision to retire when it meets Tuesday.
“He has put in a rigorous three years with us,” Jure said. “Chief's jobs are very exhausting jobs and we were lucky to have Mark with us for the three years.
“He's had a long and varied career.”
Neelin joined the Barrie Police Service Auxiliary Unit in 1975. Two years later he became a member of the Peel Regional Police Force, in 1979 moved on to the Elliot Lake Police Force and in 1980 returned to Barrie, where he served as a front-line uniform patrol constable.
Neelin went on to become the city police training officer and introduced the comprehensive training program currently in use. He moved on as a shift supervisor and was elected president of the Barrie Police Association from 1989 to 1993.
He joined the senior command in 2000 as an inspector, was appointed deputy police chief in 2009 and then police chief a year later.
Neelin will be retiring with 38 years of policing under his belt.
Jure says this was the first time an officer from within Barrie's police department was promoted to the rank of chief of police.
“Over the last three years, his policing knowledge and experience in Barrie have seen our city ranked by Statistics Canada as the fifth safest community in Canada,” Jure said. “Importantly, he has worked with the board to address the service’s long-term financial sustainability by delivering affordable policing while calls for service continue to increase.”
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman thanked Neelin for making the city safe.
“Every day we see the range and variety of police services that affect our daily lives in small and large ways,” Lehman said. “To deliver those services every hour of the day, every day of the year takes skill and leadership. We salute his achievement, and wish Mark and his family well in his retirement.”
Jure mentioned that Neelin's retirement date coincides with the beginning of the boating saeson.
“I'm in his office right now and he's got picture of sailing ships and pictures of his own boat,” he said. “He doesn't golf. . .he's a sailor.”
PAST POLICE CHIEFS:
- Mark Neelin — 2010-2013
- Wayne Frechette — 2000-2010
- Jack Delcourt — 1985-2000
- Earl Snider — 1976-1985
- Edward Tschirhart — 1956-1976
- Alexander Stewart — 1924-1945
- Robert King — 1888-1924
- Joseph Rogers — 1853-1888