RCMP brass had firm control of the message surrounding the replacement of Supt. Ted De Jager, local politicians heard Thursday.
News of De Jager’s pending transfer to E Division headquarters in Surrey, which was revealed first by The Herald on July 24, apparently didn’t reach some members of the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
That triggered a discussion at Thursday’s meeting of the RDOS protective services committee about who knew what and when – and whether De Jager’s transfer was voluntary.
“I guess some of us found it a bit strange that when Supt. De Jager was here giving his report at the end of July he made no mention of his transfer… and suddenly his replacement was announced without this committee or the RDOS board really knowing anything about it,” said Doug Holmes, the committee chair and a Summerland councillor.
“So it caught many of us quite by surprise.”
RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell said it’s unclear whether De Jager wanted to be transferred because it’s a personnel matter.
Anecdotally though, continued Newell, “Just in my discussion with Supt. De Jager, he was really looking forward to moving back to headquarters” to take an administrative job dealing with B.C. police resources.
“Resourcing is his background, and he’s excited about the new opportunity that he’s going to have.”
Newell also noted the RCMP calls the shots on its personnel.
“They do try to get local involvement, but only as consultation,” Newell said. “Clearly the decision on a detachment commander would be the RCMP’s.”
Local involvement in picking De Jager’s replacement came in the form of Newell, RDOS chairwoman Karla Kozakevich and Penticton city Coun. Katie Robinson joining two high-ranking RCMP members on the hiring committee.
“It’s very confidential,” said Kozakevich, who described not being allowed to leave the interview room with any material.
“It’s not something we can openly discuss or release to the public.”
She also noted interviews were originally planned to take place in October, but were bumped up to late August because the RCMP “wanted to get somebody in place much quicker.”
No date has been announced for De Jager’s departure. His replacement is Insp. Brian Hunter, who currently helms the Port Alberni detachment.