Breaking news: Halifax RCMP commander Darrell Beaton to be replaced

Move comes in wake of police turf battle.

Darrell Beaton, commander of the Halifax RCMP detachment, will soon be replaced.

Beaton holds the rank of superintendent, but RCMP brass has decided to upgrade the commanding rank to chief superintendent.

“It’s an opportunity for us now to increase the rank, but also about showing a commitment on behalf of the RCMP to the Halifax Regional Municipality, and also to go out across the country to look for someone to be the right fit for this job,” says Alphonse MacNeil, assistant commissioner of the RCMP, and the chief RCMP manager in Nova Scotia. “And by going up to the chief rank, it opens it up to the entire country for us to find the right person, or for the person we feel will be the best fit for Halifax district.”

The move comes in the wake of last year’s bitterly contested takeover attempt of the Halifax RCMP district by the Halifax Regional Police Department. In HRM, the HRPD patrols in urban areas and some suburban areas, while policing in the other suburban areas and all rural areas are contracted out to the RCMP at a cost of $120 per resident.

After a secret Board of Police Commissioners proposal to “merge” the two operations under HRPD management was leaked to the press, public outrage in Cole Harbour and other RCMP-patrolled areas caused the Board to drop the proposal. Upgrading the RCMP commander position to chief superintendent arguably will bring in a more savvy management team to the Halifax district, better suited to fending off future turf battles.

RCMP itself will recruit a short list of applicants for the new position, and that list will be reviewed by a board which will include HRM representatives. The new rank will not affect the cost of RCMP policing to HRM taxpayers. The difference in pay between the two ranks is “only a few thousand dollars,” says MacNeil.

It was fairly evident that Beaton won’t be considered for the new position. “I think Darrell’s done a tremendous job here,” MacNeil told the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday. “He’s been here seven years, through his different ranks and roles that he’s been in in Halifax district.” Among themselves, commissioners talked about “where Darrell’s going,” but didn’t give details.

“[Beaton] will be offered a new position here in the province,” says MacNeil.

The new commander's position will be advertised nationally Wednesday, with the role filled by summer.

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