Skip to content

Barrie's new police chief sworn in during change of command

'We are all capable of making and keeping this city healthy and safe. We need to work together. We police because we want to make a difference,' says Rich Johnston

Nearly a decade after Kimberley Greenwood took charge of the Barrie Police Service, the outgoing chief handed over command to Rich Johnston during a change-of-command ceremony on Thursday.

“I still remember the excitement and anticipation,” Greenwood said as she heads into retirement after 41 years in policing.

Both the force and the city have evolved and changed during those years, which presents new challenges to the incoming chief, she added.

The ceremony, described by police as one of the most formal for the service, signified the end of one era and the beginning of another.

The event, held at the Southshore Centre, began with a procession led by a bagpiper. A smudging ceremony was conducted through the Barrie Native Friendship Centre and was followed by a demonstration by the Intertribal Peacekeepers Drumming Group.

The police department’s records manager, Nicole Lees, sang O Canada and chaplain Craig Head led the prayer of invocation.

Addressing the audience, Johnston said the work of police is a collaborative effort or collective advocacy requiring all groups and aspects of civil society to work together in their responsibility to each other.

“We are all capable of making and keeping this city healthy and safe. We need to work together,” he said. “We police because we want to make a difference.

“Please, also note we’re human and at times we may stumble. But note that as a service we’ll always get back up and do our duty to the best of our ability," Johnston added. 

Johnston has been actively leading evidence-based policing initiatives and during an interview said that along with police legitimacy in the community will be an important part of how he leads city police. 

An honour guard presented Greenwood with a silver sword, which emcee Const. Stephanie McKibbon said represents the symbol of command and authority for the Barrie Police Service.

Barrie Police Services Board chairperson Greg Ferguson transferred that command through the sword from the outgoing chief to the incoming chief.

Johnston was then sworn in by Justice Sarah Tarcza.

Greenwood, said the chaplain, leaves “a legacy of greatness” as Johnston builds upon the foundation she has built.

“Our future is secure,” said Head.

The current social environment, added Mayor Alex Nuttall, does present challenges.

“I believe today is to be amongst the most difficult days to protect the peace,” said Nuttall, referring to social services, mental health and crime concerns in the community. “There is no doubt that your team plays a pivotal and vital role.”

Barrie Police Association president Sgt. John Brooks said the new chief has shown passion for this community.

Ferguson, meanwhile, described Johnston as innovative, community-minded and member-focused.

“His ongoing commitment to reduce harm in this community will keep this city one of the safest in Canada,” Ferguson said.

About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Bruineman is an award-winning journalist who focuses on justice issues and human interest stories
Read more

Reader Feedback