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Stratford's top cop signs on for another four years

Stratford Police Chief Greg Skinner has served four years in the role, after working for more than three decades with the Ontario Provincial Police. His new contract extension is until December, 2027

Stratford’s Chief of Police is staying in the big chair for the near future. 

Chief Greg Skinner has agreed to a four-year extension on his current contract, to lead Stratford Police Services (SPS) until December, 2027.

Originally from Stratford, Chief Skinner joined the SPS as chief in 2018, coming to the role with a 31-year career with the OPP.

Chief Skinner told StratfordToday that he has enjoyed his first four years with the SPS and is grateful for the support from the Stratford Police Services Board and the community. 

“And I think there's more work to be done,” he said. “I had some plans coming into my first contract –  and of course, COVID put a little bit of a wrinkle in our ability to get some of those things done.” 

On that list are taking a new look at the staffing model at the SPS. Chief Skinner wants to ensure that the SPS has the right people in the right places at the right times. To do this in a cost effective way, he is hoping to implement a part-time program. 

Training is another top priority. 

“We've had a number of significantly complex investigations – whether those are attempted homicides, or major drug investigations, or significant electronic crimes – and I want to make sure that we have the people and the training and the equipment in place to be able to provide the best investigations we can.” 

Diversity of membership is another important area. From a philosophical point of view, he believes that a police service needs to be reflective of the community it serves. 

To that effect, Chief Skinner praised the Community Equity Action Team (CEAT), an advisory committee that advises on building relationships with different communities, responding to racist incidents, and improving internal organization. CEAT will play a role in improving the SPS in the near-future. 

Technology is key to the police service's future. From body cameras and drones to speed cameras, technology is becoming more and more important to police work and something which Chief Skinner said he does not want to neglect. 

Maintaining a healthy workforce is another priority. 

“2022 has not been a good year for policing, with respect to our six line of duty deaths across the country,” Chief Skinner explained. “We want to make sure that we have the supports in place that provide the opportunity for members to talk to professionals, and make sure that they are coming to work, healthy, happy, well adjusted and ready to provide the service that we want them to provide.” 

While optimistic about an update to the SPS’s headquarters, Chief Skinner acknowledged that the SPS and the citizens of Stratford will have to wait a little longer as a new city council develops. Whether they decide to build a new building or renovate the current building, the project will be a costly endeavour, regardless of what option is decided.  

Acknowledging that policing is a costly service, Chief Skinner said he ensures that they strive to provide the most effective, efficient, and financially viable service possible. As a 24/7, 365-day a year service, no matter if someone calls at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., there is someone to take their call, he said. 

“We are pleased that Greg will be continuing in his role with the Stratford Police Service,” said Tim Doherty, chair of the Stratford Police Services Board. “Greg is a progressive leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position. Our police service will continue to be in good hands under Greg’s direction.”