In just over a month London Police Chief Brad Duncan will retire, after 35 years with the force. But before his retirement he sat down with XFM News on his career and what he plans to do when he retires.
Duncan’s retirement was announced on October 9, 2014 and in a media release London Police Services Board Chair at the time Michael Deeb said “Chief Duncan’s leadership of the London Police Service has been characterized by strength, vision, community outreach and a deep commitment to public safety.”
It’s that commitment that Duncan has been able to keep throughout his career with the community as a whole.
Now for the Chief sitting in his chair, reminiscing about his career he discusses what made him become a cop.
“I grew up in the 70’s, so all the cop shows were there age back then; Starsky & Hutch, Kojak, NYPD Blue and maybe that’s some of the influence but more seriously I was in university, started taking some criminology courses.” “I did a number of ride alongs…and that pretty (much) sealed it for me.”
Over the decades how has policing changed?
“It’s tremendous, we could sit here for two hours to talk about the changes but first of all it’s become professionalized over the years. The expectations for the work a police officer must do on the street is tremendous, it’s very very complicated now in terms of answering certain call types; domestic violence, sexual assault those kinds of things. When we look at the scientific advancements when I started we were looking at blood typing which would give you very little to go on. Then we (entered) into DNA which has really changed how we do investigations.” Duncan said.
Moving into family, his daughter is an officer with the London Police Service and how does that make him feel?
“It’s a great deal of pride…” “it’s a little surreal for me, I remember when she came home with a uniform and it had the name tag on, it was the same name tag that I would’ve worn as a constable on the street.” Duncan said.
Duncan says he doesn’t worry about his daughter patrolling because he knows they are trained well and danger is part of the job.
“I don’t worry because I’m familiar with the work she does and the training, I participate in the same training”
“It’s been great, we don’t talk a lot about shop when we get together family is really important to me.” Duncan said.
Now is his wife excited to have him home once he retires? Well with a grin on his face he says “you should be interviewing her.” But says this has always been the plan “she is looking forward to it.”
After talking about his family and career, Duncan opens up about crime in London and some of the unpleasant topics that made national headlines during his time as Chief.
Crime numbers have been decreasing over the years nationally but Duncan says he is still concern with the amount of drugs and guns in the city. Especially after the shooting death of a man across the road from Lorne Ave PS.
“Which is very concerning, I’ve said that time and time again, the influx of firearms in our city is disturbing.”
The infamous 2012 St. Patrick’s Day riot is long gone now, but it’s still something people talk about and haven’t forgotten.
“That was a call that I got at home indicating what had happened and I was quite angry at the outset.” “Particularity against our police officers, if you’ve seen the video tapes from that evening it was (a) very very difficult situation for our officers being pelted with beer bottles, very dangerous.”
Then the following year, the Project LEARN controversy which had students speaking out against the process and had the media asking questions. It was during that time an internal review was launched.
“I will always stand by the process, what our officers did in terms of recording names and addresses from home areas (there was) nothing illegal about that.” “The logic behind it was sound, optically from the community I was certainly sensitive to how the community viewed that.”
Prior to the review a lawyer demanded Duncan’s resignation or information collected to be destroyed. Shortly after the internal review, a news conference was scheduled and Duncan ordered all information collected to be destroyed. But says he was just listening to the community.
Since then, the relationship between police and the students has improved.
“As Chief you have to realize you have to move forward” “Last year I was approached by both Fanshawe and Western and said we got the message for the last two years but there’s different students now”
When asked if Duncan had completed everything he set out to do as Chief he said in part London Police has a diversity plan and he has taken part in many community events that they weren’t in the past. Such as he was the first Chief to march in the gay pride parade, introducing two new chaplains; a muslin and Jewish champlain. Another is being a strong advocate for mental health.
Duncan will retire on May 1st and hand over the reigns to John Pare, the city’s next top cop.
“it’s been just a great career.” Duncan Said.