Acting Police Chief

CBRM Council approved the appointment of Deputy Chief Robert Walsh as acting police chief last night, during its regular monthly council meeting.

The Spectator reported in September 2019 that McIsaac was on medical leave but that CBRPS spokesperson Desiree Magnus had declined to say how long he’d been off.

McIsaac attended the June 2019 police commission meeting but during the September 2019 meeting, District 12 Councilor Jim MacLeod stated that McIsaac was on sick leave. In December 2019, the Cape Breton Post reported that the chief had been out for “five months,” which would mean his leave dates to July 2019.

Walsh told the Post that McIsaac’s health “is his personal information and we’re not able to discuss that.”

CBRPS Chief Peter McIsaac, Acting Chief Robert Walsh

CBRPS Chief Peter McIsaac (Source: CBRPS website) and Acting Chief Robert Walsh (Photo by Tom Ayers, CBC)

In McIsaac’s absence, Walsh has been performing his duties — attending police commission meetings, presenting the force’s 2020-21 budget — and last night, MacLeod, in his capacity as chair of the police commission, recommended that Walsh be appointed acting chief.

Council approved the appointment, which had been the subject of two in camera meetings — one by the police commission on February 12 and a second by the full council prior to last night’s meeting — with almost no discussion.

Per the Post‘s report:

There is no timeline as to how long Walsh will serve in that capacity given that Chief Peter McIsaac is presently off on leave…The deputy has been filling in for McIsaac for the past several months.

CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke said the move is all [sic] giving the municipality’s highest ranking police officer the power to do the job.

“Given that we don’t know how long Chief McIsaac will be on leave, it’s important that we have someone in that leadership role that has the authority invested through the Police Act,” said Clarke.

“We need to have a chain of command in place that will allow the force to sustain operations and this allows the deputy to make the decisions that the Police Act gives him the authority for and to fill other vacancies that he needs filled.”

Leading to the obvious question, how has the force — which numbers roughly 200 and eats up 18% of the CBRM’s annual budget — managed to function for the past seven months without a “chain of command” that allows it “to sustain operations?”

I watched the livestream of last evening’s meeting rather than attending so didn’t get a copy of the documents council was given during the discussion of Walsh’s appointment (they were “to be circulated at meeting” according to the agenda.)

I’ve asked the municipal clerk for a copy.

But I have to say, the way the CBRM has handled the chief’s absence has been what McIsaac himself might call “bush league.”


Featured photo of Robert Walsh by Tom Ayers, CBC.