The news came late Monday. Saanich’s police chief quietly retired on July 31 and the police board quickly re-hired him for two years. However, he was not hired as a municipal employee but as a contractor, according to Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell.
“He wanted to give me advance notice to that he was intending to retire. So I took that to the board to try to figure out what are the options going forward.
As a board we looked at it,” Atwell said.
“And thought, give some certainty for the department and to help us with the process of finding a replacement chief. That the best option forward would be to put him on contract. ”
It comes with a hefty price tag. Even though Downie retired, the board paid him severance for the three years until he’s 60 years old.
That totalled $379,000. He now earns $222,711 a year for each of the two-year contracts. That’s in addition to his municipal pension.
Saanich’s police board wants to avoid the pitfalls Victoria faced with its former chief. Frank Elsner resigned earlier this year, and he’s still facing allegations of misconduct.
That process is still unresolved. Saanich’s mayor defends the decision.
“It’s a pretty critical job,” Atwell said. “And I want to make sure that we do it right. Certainly, when it goes wrong, what happened in Victoria, and it was disastrous for Victoria.”
Bob Downie started with the Saanich Police Department more than three decades ago.