South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher brings a wealth of experience to the job of top cop but his police boots are planted firmly on the ground with his officers.
“One of the greatest insults to me was when I became a Deputy Chief, somebody said to me ‘Oh you’re not a cop anymore. You’re an administrator.’ Not so much,” said Fletcher.
The former South Simcoe Deputy Chief and ex-Halton Police officer for 31 years still stops cars when warranted - even recently as a newly minted Chief.
“Some guy blew by me at 110 km/h so he got pulled over. You gotta slow down. I gave him a warning,” he said.
As part of Police Week from May 14 to 20, BarrieToday.com will be profiling some officers in our region.
Fletcher began his policing career in 1984 in Halton, where he worked uniform patrol, criminal investigation, the tactical unit, drug and morality bureau, the homicide unit and the community policing support section.
He became Deputy Chief in 2007 before being appointed Deputy of South Simcoe Police in 2015.
He was sworn in as Chief of South Simcoe Police on Apr. 18.
A lot of his career has been spent doing front line investigative work.
“I pride myself on that," he said.
One of his big goals in South Simcoe is to move from a reactive to a proactive model of policing.
He says his officers do a great job of responding to calls but with huge growth in Bradford and Innisfil the service needs to get ahead of the curve.
“Not just in community engagement but being proactive in getting ahead of the crime trends as well because we’re going to see some tremendous crime growth in some of the gang activity, some of the drug activity. So building some of our criminal investigations bureau’s capacity. Working with our partner agencies in York, Barrie and the OPP. Gangs and bad guys don’t know any boundaries,” Fletcher said, adding the collaboration should extend to mental health and social service partners.
“We still work in these silos. I’d love to try and break down some of those barriers and start saying to people how can we work together?"
He also supports police showing a human side - inviting a child to sit in a cruiser, taking just that extra moment to touch a life and make a difference.
And Fletcher wants his officers in the spotlight so they can develop their careers.
The new Chief is foregoing a ‘message from the Chief’ on the South Simcoe Police website.
Instead, his officers will get that profile which will include work contacts so the public can reach out to them directly.
It's just part of his vision for the service to be more ‘public facing.’
“Not being four wheels and a head, always in the car. We need to get out of the cars and talk to people."
He’s also alive to work-life balance - the importance of having a life outside of work.
Fletcher and his wife Jacquei live in Innisfil and are empty nesters now with a son, 25, daughter, 27 and a first grandchild on the way.
"I’m a father, a husband, a normal guy," he said. "I didn’t aspire 30 years ago to be a chief of police. I joined policing because I love policing. I love making a difference in the community. I love helping people. That’s what I want to be known for is that you’re not just a guy sitting in an office with a big position and big power. I want to be out in the community. I want to be involved with my people."
Tomorrow: Meet the new Deputy Chief of Barrie Police