By Doug Hallett
Guelph is losing an inspirational leader in the community with the departure of Police Chief Bryan Larkin to become chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
“I think he has been a very inspirational leader,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “I think we’ve been inspired by his leadership.”
The Guelph Police Services Board is meeting today (July 17) to decide on a course of action.
Given how long it takes to recruit properly for a position like this, the board will probably look at naming an acting chief in the interim, Farbridge said in an interview Tuesday.
Coun. Leanne Piper, who like Farbridge sits on the police board, said Larkin will be sorely missed.
“It’s hard to put into words the loss that will be felt in this community,” Piper said Tuesday.
“Chief Larkin was everywhere. His commitment to Guelph is not just in policing, but as a civic booster and volunteer with so many community organizations. I hope Waterloo Regional Police Service knows how incredibly lucky they are,” she said in an email sent in response to a Tribune query.
“I am not surprised that he is moving up in profile; he’s one of the most highly respected chiefs of police in the country,” Piper said. “I have no doubt that his influence in policing will be felt provincially and nationally in the future.”
Guelph will benefit from a lot of time spent by Larkin on “strategic planning, building capacity and nurturing new leadership potential within the Guelph Police Service,” Piper said.
“He has mentored a lot of up-and-coming talent, which means that he is leaving us in good order, with excellent staff and officers, and with a strategic plan that is steering us in the right direction.”
A statement from the Guelph Police Services Board on Wednesday congratulated Larkin on his appointment, which was announced Tuesday by the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board.
Larkin will replace a chief who retired earlier this year from the Waterloo Regional police department to take a job with the province, and who was temporarily replaced by an acting chief.
“Understandably, we are saddened by the loss of his leadership and will miss his gregarious personality on the streets of Guelph,” Guelph’s police board said of Larkin.
However, “our strong team will continue to provide excellent policing service to the City of Guelph,” the police board statement said. “We are confident as we move towards the future,” it said.
Farbridge said Larkin, who has been Guelph’s police chief for just over two years, told her of his departure a couple of days before it was announced. “I do understand how difficult a decision it has been for him,” she said.
Guelph is “losing a very strong community leader,” the mayor said.
However, the Guelph Police Service does “a lot of collaboration and joint work” with the neighbouring police force in Waterloo Region, and Larkin’s being chief there “will only strengthen those relationships,” she said.
Larkin’s move to the Waterloo Regional Police Service represents a kind a homecoming for him. He began his policing career with the Waterloo service as a cadet in 1991 and rose up through the ranks to the position of divisional commander.
Though Larkin had lived in Guelph since the early ’90s, it wasn’t until 2011 that he joined the Guelph Police Service, coming on board as deputy chief on April 1 of that year. Exactly one year later, on April 1, 2012, he took over as chief, replacing retiring chief Rob Davis, who had been with the Guelph force ever since joining it at age 19 in 1971.
Besides his work with the Guelph Police Service, Larkin has been involved in numerous community organizations, ranging from coaching minor sports to serving on the board of the Stonehenge Therapeutic Community.
He studied in Guelph, earning a bachelor of applied arts in justice studies from the University of Guelph. He also has a diploma in police leadership and police foundations from Humber College.
He has been living in Guelph with his wife, Marnie. The couple has an adult son, Brad.
The move to the Waterloo Regional force will mean a pay raise for Larkin, who earned a salary and benefits package amounting to $206,745 at the Guelph service in 2013.
It was reported Wednesday that his starting salary at the Waterloo Regional force will be $220,000.
Larkin was Guelph’s 12th chief of police. Davis, who was chief from 2000 to 2012, replaced Lenna Bradburn, who became Canada’s first female police chief when she was named to head the Guelph force in 1994.
Larkin could not be reached for comments following Tuesday’s announcement.