It is Police Chief Dennis Poole’s last day today. His retirement unofficially begins tomorrow due to vacation time he is owed.
In an interview with the CKReview Poole spoke about his career, the changes he has seen in his years in policing and what he sees as the challenges facing police today.
Poole began his career as a Chatham Police officer in 1981 when times were different. “The biggest change has been in technology. Technology has made policing easier in same ways and more complex in others”, Poole said. “When I started we didn’t have Blackberry’s or the internet. Cameras are everywhere today and if we blast a photo of a suspect on social media, nine times out of ten someone recognizes him.” Scientific advancements have also changed how police work has improved. “Back when I started DNA evidence was in its infancy”, he said, pointing out it is common practice today. “It is much more reliable than fingerprints in identifying a suspect.”
Poole spoke of his reasons for leaving as wanting more time with his family. The demands on the Chief are constant and burn-out played a role. Poole leaves with no regrets in his career, but expressed his regrets for those victimized in our community. “If I have any regrets it is for the murder victims and the good people of our community that have been lost in fatal accidents”, Poole said.
The Sunshine List was on the Chief’s mind when he raised the topic of police salaries. “People ask about the salaries paid to police because they see them in our community, perhaps sitting at a Tim Hortons or doing what they are supposed to be doing, engaging the community. It’s like an airplane pilot”, Poole said, drawing an analogy between policing and piloting an aircraft. “You are thankful for a good pilot when it is time to land or take-off. It is the same with the police.”
Getting in a little dig on the way out Poole said “When I spoke at the (Police Services Board) meeting I said one of the changes was how social media enables the untrained journalist”, without making a direct reference to CKReview News, known for relying on and empowering citizen journalists.
The tragedies the police see as a part of their job are on the mind of the Chief as well. “The stress does build over time. Officers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression need more support. It is an ongoing challenge.”
In many ways Poole reflects the community he has served for 35 years. He brought a calm and patient demeanor with an eagerness to tirelessly strive at getting the job done right. Chatham-Kent is better for it. Good luck and best wishes to our outgoing Chief Dennis Poole, he has earned it.