Police Board Reaffirms HR Hiring

Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson. BlackburnNews.com (Photo by Jake Jeffrey)

Sarnia’s police chief says he answers to the police services board and he shouldn’t have to appear before city council on a regular basis to explain his actions.

Phil Nelson made the comment Thursday morning as the police board reaffirmed its decision to hire a human resources advisor at police headquarters.

Council had asked the board to reconsider the hiring and councillor and board member Dave Boushy suggested the chief appear at city hall to clear up any confusion.

“My idea was he could go to council and talk, not to the council members, I’m thinking of the people at large,” says Boushy. “Unfiltered speech, unfiltered news, to answer all the questions council came up with and the public came up with. The reports speak for itself.”

But Nelson says that’s not his job.

“I shouldn’t have to attend city council on a regular basis to explain my reports that I prepare for the board, unless the board requests me to do so,” says Nelson. “That’s the point here that we have to remember. I answer to a police service. They are my boss. The reports that are in open session here are public documents. All of this stuff is public knowledge, it’s not secret.”

Nelson says his top priority is the well-being of his officers.

“Like I said in the initial report, we need a human resources person here full time now,” he says. “Since 2009 we’ve been contributing just under $70,000 to the city for their HR services on a part time basis, and as I’ve said, the person who was assigned it does a great job. But, with recent changes in legislation, post traumatic stress among officers, well-being within the workplace and there’s many other issues to be dealt with, we need a full time human resources person.”

He repeated the board approved staffing changes so the hiring wouldn’t impact the police budget or increase civilian personnel.

An officer will actually be returned to frontline duties and the shuffle will save $2,200.