Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With decades of service under his belt, York Regional Police’s (YRP) newly appointed deputy chief is eager to continue his efforts toward the safety and wellbeing of the community and his fellow officers.
The York Regional Police Services Board recently announced the appointment of Superintendent Alvaro Almeida to fill the vacancy created by retired Deputy Chief Brian Bigras.
“Deputy Chief Designate Almeida is a proven leader in the policing community and has worked tirelessly over the course of his career to demonstrate excellence and integrity in policing,” said board chair Maurizio Bevilacqua. “He is a welcome addition to our service’s command staff.”
With more than 34 years of law enforcement experience in a broad range of assignments — including homicide, drugs and vice, intelligence, and strategic services — Almeida knows not only the subject matter but also the day-to-day challenges for members working in those areas.
“I am extremely proud and humbled to have been selected by the board to serve as deputy chief of York Regional Police,” said Deputy Chief Designate Almeida. “I look forward to continuing the important work our organization is doing in the community and internally, working closely with the members of our service, the Police Services Board, and the public.”
“(Deputy Chief Almeida’s) extensive experience and proven leadership skills will help our organization now and into the future,” said YRP Chief Jim MacSween.
Public safety is top of mind for Almeida, who acknowledges growing community concern over weapons offences and property crimes like carjacking and break and enters.
“Those are all big issues in our community, and my goal will be to ensure that we’re addressing those as best we can in a collaborative fashion with our law enforcement partners and our community.”
Almeida volunteers on the board of directors for 360°kids, which provides wrap-around services and housing for at-risk youth in York Region. He sees room for improvement in the support system for issues such as homelessness and mental health.
“When there’s a lack of social programming in place, the issues land in the hands of the police,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to focusing in on being able to leverage some of our community partners to help us with some of these issues.”
Equally crucial to Almeida is the wellbeing of his fellow officers and colleagues.
Almeida played a key role in establishing the framework for and implementing the cultural transformation program, “Breakthrough,” which has inspired positive organizational change throughout YRP.
The initiative focused on enhancing wellness and inclusion and strengthening working relationships between members. Human resources process improvements on retention, recruitment, and talent promotion were also implemented.
“As a deputy chief, the members of our organization and their wellness is of key importance to me,” he said. “We have to protect our number one asset, and that’s our people. Keeping them healthy and ensuring that they have proper life balance is important for them in order for them to carry out their duties. So making sure we have a safe work environment is a key priority for me.”
The impact of the recent deaths of Toronto Police Service Constable Andrew Hong, YRP Constable Travis Gillespie, and South Simcoe Police Service Constables Morgan Russell and Devon Michael Northrup on the policing community reinforces the need to ensure that these vital supports for officer wellness are in place.
Deputy Chief Designate Almeida assumed his new role Oct.3.
Photo: Deputy Chief Designate Alvaro Almeida. (Photo courtesy of York Regional Police Services Board.)