Police Chief Kai Liu has probably been the most effective and popular Police Chief that Cobourg has had for some time and he has now announced his “retirement” – but only from the Cobourg service. He has accepted a position as Police Chief at a community “three times larger than Cobourg”. The change is effective September 1, 2019 although effective July 26, current Deputy Chief Paul Vandegraaf has been named Chief Designate. Paul will be officially named Chief at a future command ceremony. Chief Kai Liu was the 13th Chief of Police in the 159-year history of the Cobourg Police Service and has been with the force for seven years. The announcement was made on July 26 by Dean Pepper, Chair of the Cobourg Police Services Board.
Appreciation by Dean Pepper
On behalf of the board, I want to express our unanimous appreciation to Chief Liu’s unwavering dedication to the safety and security of our community. When he was recruited as chief seven years ago, he was given a clear mandate by the board to modernize our service with a strong emphasis on community-based policing and community engagement. I am very proud to say, he has accomplished this.
Under Chief Liu’s strong leadership, he changed the culture of our police service and developed one that is proactive, engaging and committed to the Cobourg Police Service values.
Accomplishments (per announcement)
- Presented seven police budgets with each annual budget increase being well under the cost of living.
- Systematically reduced the police portion of the town’s total annual budget.
- Placed the service on the forefront of tiered policing with increased use of non-sworn members.
- With funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Service, implemented the region’s only year-round youth employment program called ‘Youth in Policing Initiative’. This program has employed over 70 Northumberland students since its inception.
- In 2012, inherited an auxiliary officer program with two officers and today the service has 19 auxiliary officers who collectively volunteer thousands of community service hours.
- Positioned the Corporate Services Unit in the very envious position as one of Canada’s largest third-party criminal records check supplier.
- Using revenue generated by Corporate Services, the CPSB invested $2 million dollars into building Venture 13, Cobourg’s first business incubator and innovation centre.
- Removed the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace by encouraging and supporting officers to seek assistance with their mental health when required. The number of officers at CPS seeking help is a testament of this support.
Statement by Chair Dean Pepper about Paul Vandegraaf
The appointment of Chief of Police Designate Paul VandeGraaf speaks to the strong succession plan the service had in place. The board is proud that Paul accepted the challenge to lead the service and we’re confident he will ensure we meet our goals in protecting and serving the community with quality policing. Paul has proven over time that he has a clear understanding of our vision and approaches every situation with the service’s mission in mind. The board has absolute confidence Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf will continue to take our service to the next level.
Paul was hired from Belleville Police in 2014 where he had been since 1991 and Deputy Chief there since 2010.
Further statement by Dean Pepper:
Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf’s experience in policing extends over 28 years and has steadily and successfully progressed from various leadership roles to the position of Deputy Chief of the Cobourg Police Service. After leaving the Belleville Police Service as their Deputy Chief, he has become very engrained in the Cobourg community. He has successfully worked with Chief Liu and the Cobourg Police Services Board in all areas. He’s been a key player in strategic planning, budgeting, and revolutionizing the service that has provided a far more community-focused delivery that is both highly economical and abundantly effective. He has been very involved in leading the Cobourg Police Service Corporate Services into a true social enterprise. One that applies innovative business strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social, and environmental well-being for others. This approach to police as a business ensures the viability of “small town” policing for generations to come.
Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf remains a very active member of the Cobourg community including being a member of the DBIA, the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Cobourg Rotary Club and alongside his wife Cathy, past campaign chairs for the YMCA Strong Communities Campaign.
I believe that Paul would be a good successor to Kai although Kai’s shoes will be hard to fill.
Addendum – 29 July 2019
Cobourg police released the following update:
On Friday, July 26, the Cobourg Police Services Board announced Chief of Police Kai Liu’s retirement and appointed Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf as Chief Designate, effective July 26, 2019.
After all appropriate notifications were made this weekend, the Cobourg Police Services Board can confirm that Chief Kai Liu will be retiring from municipal policing to lead Ontario’s First Nations policing as Chief of Police with the Treaty Three Police Service.
“This new opportunity is full circle for me. Early in my career with the Ottawa Police Service, I worked closely with indigenous peoples and found the job to be quite rewarding. I am looking forward to again, engaging and building relationships with the indigenous communities within the Treaty Three Police Service,” says Chief Liu.
The board is pleased that Chief Liu will be bringing his vast experience and leadership to the northern communities within Treaty Three Police Service.
Cobourg Police Services Board Chair, Dean Pepper supports his new role, “Treaty Three Police Service are very fortunate to have Chief Liu leading their large service which will allow him to get back to his roots and make a difference with the First Nations.”