Police Chief Kai Liu to Leave Cobourg

Police Chief Kai Liu has probably been the most effective and popular Police Chief that Cobourg has had for some time and he has now announced his “retirement” – but only from the Cobourg service.  He has accepted a position as Police Chief at a community “three times larger than Cobourg”.  The change is effective September 1, 2019 although effective July 26, current Deputy Chief Paul Vandegraaf has been named Chief Designate.  Paul will be officially named Chief at a future command ceremony.  Chief Kai Liu was the 13th Chief of Police in the 159-year history of the Cobourg Police Service and has been with the force for seven years.  The announcement was made on July 26 by Dean Pepper, Chair of the Cobourg Police Services Board.

Appreciation by Dean Pepper

Kai Liu
Kai Liu

On behalf of the board, I want to express our unanimous appreciation to Chief Liu’s unwavering dedication to the safety and security of our community. When he was recruited as chief seven years ago, he was given a clear mandate by the board to modernize our service with a strong emphasis on community-based policing and community engagement. I am very proud to say, he has accomplished this.

Under Chief Liu’s strong leadership, he changed the culture of our police service and developed one that is proactive, engaging and committed to the Cobourg Police Service values.

Accomplishments (per announcement)

  • Presented seven police budgets with each annual budget increase being well under the cost of living.
  • Systematically reduced the police portion of the town’s total annual budget.
  • Placed the service on the forefront of tiered policing with increased use of non-sworn members.
  • With funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Service, implemented the region’s only year-round youth employment program called ‘Youth in Policing Initiative’. This program has employed over 70 Northumberland students since its inception.
  • In 2012, inherited an auxiliary officer program with two officers and today the service has 19 auxiliary officers who collectively volunteer thousands of community service hours.
  • Positioned the Corporate Services Unit in the very envious position as one of Canada’s largest third-party criminal records check supplier. 
  • Using revenue generated by Corporate Services, the CPSB invested $2 million dollars into building Venture 13, Cobourg’s first business incubator and innovation centre. 
  • Removed the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace by encouraging and supporting officers to seek assistance with their mental health when required. The number of officers at CPS seeking help is a testament of this support.

Statement by Chair Dean Pepper about Paul Vandegraaf

The appointment of Chief of Police Designate Paul VandeGraaf speaks to the strong succession plan the service had in place. The board is proud that Paul accepted the challenge to lead the service and we’re confident he will ensure we meet our goals in protecting and serving the community with quality policing. Paul has proven over time that he has a clear understanding of our vision and approaches every situation with the service’s mission in mind. The board has absolute confidence Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf will continue to take our service to the next level.

Paul Vandergraaf
Paul Vandergraaf

Paul was hired from Belleville Police in 2014 where he had been since 1991 and Deputy Chief there since 2010.

Further statement by Dean Pepper:

Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf’s experience in policing extends over 28 years and has steadily and successfully progressed from various leadership roles to the position of Deputy Chief of the Cobourg Police Service. After leaving the Belleville Police Service as their Deputy Chief, he has become very engrained in the Cobourg community. He has successfully worked with Chief Liu and the Cobourg Police Services Board in all areas. He’s been a key player in strategic planning, budgeting, and revolutionizing the service that has provided a far more community-focused delivery that is both highly economical and abundantly effective. He has been very involved in leading the Cobourg Police Service Corporate Services into a true social enterprise. One that applies innovative business strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social, and environmental well-being for others. This approach to police as a business ensures the viability of “small town” policing for generations to come.

Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf remains a very active member of the Cobourg community including being a member of the DBIA, the Board of Directors for the YMCA, Cobourg Rotary Club and alongside his wife Cathy, past campaign chairs for the YMCA Strong Communities Campaign.

I believe that Paul would be a good successor to Kai although Kai’s shoes will be hard to fill.

Addendum – 29 July 2019

Cobourg police released the following update:

On Friday, July 26, the Cobourg Police Services Board announced Chief of Police Kai Liu’s retirement and appointed Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf as Chief Designate, effective July 26, 2019.
After all appropriate notifications were made this weekend, the Cobourg Police Services Board can confirm that Chief Kai Liu will be retiring from municipal policing to lead Ontario’s First Nations policing as Chief of Police with the Treaty Three Police Service.

This new opportunity is full circle for me. Early in my career with the Ottawa Police Service, I worked closely with indigenous peoples and found the job to be quite rewarding. I am looking forward to again, engaging and building relationships with the indigenous communities within the Treaty Three Police Service,” says Chief Liu.

The board is pleased that Chief Liu will be bringing his vast experience and leadership to the northern communities within Treaty Three Police Service.

Cobourg Police Services Board Chair, Dean Pepper supports his new role, “Treaty Three Police Service are very fortunate to have Chief Liu leading their large service which will allow him to get back to his roots and make a difference with the First Nations.”

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4 years ago

“Three times larger”
Not population and certainly not area. Both an easy presumption to make.
Could the reference be to (approx) three times the size of the Cobourg Police Service?
“Sworn Officer compliment of 89 Officers that are responsible for policing 55,000 square miles of Treaty Three Territory in Northwestern Ontario, which includes 20,000 people residing on 23 separate First Nation Communities.”

Reply to  Frenchy
4 years ago

I guess we get press releases like that when people try and make something out of nothing.

Reply to  Kyle
4 years ago

Actually, the press release was very specific.
“Chief Liu’s retirement is effective September 1, 2019 when he takes on his new appointment as Chief of Police for another police service three times larger than Cobourg’s.”
I guess nobody bothered to read it and John’s report above wasn’t worded correctly.

4 years ago

So he is going to Be chief for Treaty Three Police services
I wonder were they go the 60,000 number from 🤔
Treaty Three Police services 18,550 First Nations residents in 28 First Nation Territories in the Kenora and Rainy River districts.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Mark
4 years ago

The 60,000 was conjured by Canuck Patriot, who had presumed that “three times larger than Cobourg” referred to population. Easy presumption to make.

Deborah O'Connor
4 years ago

It must be a class thing. All the upper crusts seem to love the guy, but down here on the meanstreets of town, enthusiasm is rather muted, or focused squarely on Liu’s departure. Not so sure about the new guy either, not with so many real policing problems swirling around. A new broom could sweep clean and bring in a fresh new start to our police service. Clearly that is sorely needed; just ask any downtown merchant.

4 years ago

Message to the highly paid police communications person – you do not need to take a lesson in how to write a vague release you are a master. One cannot “retire” after subjecting yourself to a rigourous and lengthy selection process. One either retires – remove oneself from the workforce, or one keeps working albeit somewhere else. In this case a community three times the size of Cobourg.

I eagerly await the press release announcing the hiring of this “retired Chief” from another community desperate to rejuvenate itself. Nothing wrong with ambition, just remember that a final pension payout is usually based on final years of pay. Let’s just be clear about it!

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  ben
4 years ago

His new community may well be outside of Ontario. There are none in Ontario with a population of around 60,000 with its own police force.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
4 years ago

He said it was “three times larger than Cobourg.” He likely wasn’t referring to population, but to area..

4 years ago

Does this “Retirement” mean that he starts to receive his pension cheques from Cobourg right away? Perhaps our Mayor could give us a reply and explain the situation…and the “China” report as well.

John Hill
4 years ago

Even though Chief Liu is leaving Cobourg, we should all be proud of his accomplishments. Compare what Police Service Board Chair Dean Pepper had to say about the Chief with what the Ontario Civilian Police Commission had to say about Durham Regional Chief Paul Martin. Durham was ongoing an extreme “crisis of confidence” according to published reports. Despite the negative comments of some posters here, I continue to believe Cobourg has the most progressive force in North America.

4 years ago

After seven years he is retiring, only to take another job , mmmmm🤔
I think someone should be looking into these contacts offered to public employees in senior positions
Time to role this police force into the OPP

Reply to  Mark
4 years ago

Be careful what u wish for, every few years this topic comes up , study’s etc start again with the results proving once again that reality sets in and we still keep our own great Police Service.

4 years ago

Social Media painting a much different picture. Reportedly two Human Rights complaints by staff active.