Cooper moving to Saskatoon force after six years at the helm in P.A.
Troy Cooper will be Saskatoon’s next chief of police.
The Saskatoon Police Service introduced Cooper as chief-elect during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Cooper has been police chief in Prince Albert for the last six years.
The position of chief in Saskatoon became open in June of 2017 when then-chief Clive Weighill announced his retirement.
Cooper will be sworn in on his first day, Feb. 28.
The Saskatoon police service received applicants from across Saskatchewan and across Canada, eventually settling on Cooper as their choice candidate.
“We wanted to find a police chief that was, among other things, a true community leader,” board of police commissioners member Darlene Brander said Wednesday.
“We wanted a police chief who can lead the service by knowing the job inside and out. They needed deep experience in policing, operations and significant career progression … (they needed to show) they had built and sustained relationships across the community. They needed to convince (us) that relationship building is, day in and day out, a core part of their job, (and that) they’re innovative, especially in a demanding environment.”
Brander said the candidate would be calm under pressure, approachable, genuine fair, open and accountable.
The police commissioners contacted Cooper’s references.
“They agreed on several things,” she said.
“The respect he has earned inside the service, positive relationship[s with the community, commitment to the city on and off the job, humility, sincerity, toughness, compassion, strong operations background, listening skills — the list went on and on from those who knew him the best.
“It became obvious he was the leader we want in our community, the person we want to take the helm of our highly professional police service.”
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark also welcomed Cooper before the new Saskatoon chief-elect stepped to the microphone.
Cooper said he was “extremely humbled” to accept the position.
“It’s a particular honour because Saskatoon is the gold standard for policing in Saskatchewan, and sets the bar across the country,” he said.
“My job is not to disrupt the positive direction, but to build on what has been accomplished already.”
Cooper spoke of his broad background in policing, spending time in patrol, intelligence, major crimes, drugs, the integrated unit with the RCMP, and on the executive of the police association.
He also talked of advisory roles he has had on a provincial and national level, including in the areas of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, technical aspects of radio communications and a national police service advisory committee.
“I look forward to developing relationships with the diverse cultural communities as well as the business community,” Cooper said.
“Even as successful as Saskatoon has been, we must grow, change and embrace innovation.”
Cooper addressed the challenges facing Saskatoon, challenges he has also faced in Prince Albert. That includes forthcoming changes to freedom of information legislation and the legalization of cannabis, which will stretch police resources.
He spoke of the rise of highly-addictive drugs, such as opiates, which drive property crime and gang activity in the province.
He stressed that in order to address gangs and drugs, communities must work to get to the root of the issues and on prevention.
In Prince Albert, Cooper had expressed openness to considering a supervised injection site, citing harm reduction as a community priority.
He was also often seen supporting marginalized groups, whether that entailed marching in the Pride parade, raising the gender diverse flag and attending events to remember transgender and gender diverse victims of violence, openly discussing ways to improve police response to alleged sexual assault, forming an Indigenous women advisory committee or attending events to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
He was also active in the business community, MC-ing events for the Chamber of Commerce and meeting with business groups to discuss their concerns.
He concluded his remarks in Saskatoon Wednesday by stressing the importance of diversity.
“Saskatoon has the benefit of diversity,” Cooper said.
“Diversity is specifically important to policing. When our organization becomes more diverse, we will become stronger and more successful. Diversity is more than an obligation. It is an opportunity.”
Cooper and Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne are expected to address Prince Albert media at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.