The Nelson Police Department is facing another staff shortage, after “multiple” officers resigned throughout the last month.
The department’s Chief Constable Donovan Fisher released a statement that said three resignations were due to retirement and others choosing to focus on other ventures and their personal lives.
He also stated that several “systemic issues” within the department have also led to a “mutually acceptable parting of the ways.” Fisher declined to say exactly how many officers have left or how many remain. Three other officers quit this past spring while two were killed in an avalanche in January, although others have since been hired. A full complement is 21.
Fisher would not elaborate on which “systemic issues” were significant enough to cause the resignations but stated the department has made some changes a few officers did not agree with.
“I think there were some things that needed to be modernized here [at the department] and some people weren’t necessarily in agreement with them,” he said in a follow-up interview
“They weren’t ready for those changes or didn’t want to be here with some of the new things we were working on to modernize the department and they decided it was time to move on.”
He says the resignations have caused challenges, but he is not concerned or surprised.
“It’s just bad timing, I guess, in some respect. Some had other opportunities they wanted to go to. Some people were at retirement age and ready to retire, and I think some people felt it wasn’t for them any longer and decided to move on,” says Fisher.
“It’s a little bit of short-term pain, but I knew a couple of the officers had spoken to me about going to other opportunities for several months. I knew the officers that were approaching retirement age, for probably six months or more. Some of the opportunities all seem to have come at the same time for members. So, the only surprise was that these opportunities all seem to have happened in a fairly short time period, but I knew they were coming.”
He says the public should not feel an interruption of service or safety as the RCMP has offered to step up and help provide additional resources.
“We have still an excellent group of police officers working at the department. If there are shortages here or there throughout the summer the RCMP has committed to assist us with additional resources to augment the shifts, the public shouldn’t see any difference in the level of service.”
Fisher says they are continuing to hire new and young officers who are well informed on unconscious bias, trauma-informed interviewing and cultural issues, which he believes will make the department better in the long run.
“In my experience, this is just a normal course of business. It just seems that you go through phases where attrition spikes a bit, but you make the best of it. I think in the long run, the police department is going to be better off and continue to improve as we grow.”