Chatham-Kent’s top cop will be honoured next week in Ottawa with a medal from the Governor General.
Police Chief Dennis Poole will receive an Order of Merit of the Police Forces Sept. 9 at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall in the capital.
The Order of Merit of the Police Forces was established 14 years ago to recognize the leadership and exceptional service or distinctive merit of staff of Canadian police services. The awards are handed out based on qualities of citizenship, service to the nation and to the policing community and humanity at large, according to the Governor General’s office.
Pat Belanger, chair of the Chatham-Kent Police Services Board, said Poole is a very deserving recipient.
“I think we have one of the best police chiefs in Ontario, or Canada for that matter,” she said. “What’s he’s done to further himself professionally is amazing. And he’s done an awful lot of volunteer work in the community.”
The community work includes being a member of the Military Institute of Windsor and the Essex & Kent Scottish Regiment, and a Knight of the Hospitaller Order of St. John. Poole is also a past member and past president of the board of directors of the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village, and a former member of the board of the Chatham-Kent Cultural Coalition.
“He does such a long line of volunteer work. It’s a wonder he even gets home,” Belanger said.
Professionally, Poole became a Chatham police officer in 1980, moved into criminal investigations five years later, and continued his rise through the ranks, becoming an inspector in 2000 and a deputy chief a year later, before taking on the chief’s duties in 2009.
He also continued to further his education. Poole has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in public administration. He is also a certified level 3 municipal manager, and is a graduate of the FBI’s academy in Quantico, Virg.
Belanger, who signed the nomination papers that went to the Governor General to honour Poole, called the chief a leader.
“He’s pioneered a lot of things other police forces are emulating now,” she said, pointing to the HELP team that kicks into action when someone who is mentally ill is involved in a crime.
The HELP team was developed in 2001 in an effort to improve the outcome of interactions with the mentally ill and police. It’s comprised of officers and support staff who have specific training to deal with the mentally ill. The team’s partnered with local mental health agencies and support groups as well.
Belanger also pointed to the development of Blackberry smartphones used in police cruisers.
“We pioneered it and now a lot of other forces are doing it,” she said.
The use of Blackberrys in cruisers improved front-line officers’ abilities to gather and share information in a cost-effective manner.
Controlling costs is something Belanger said Poole is also very good at.
“I think it’s helped keep the costs down in Chatham-Kent, although some people might not agree,” she said.
The chief wasn’t available for comment.