AMHERST – Amherst’s top police officer is calling it a career.
After nearly 40 years in policing, Amherst Police Chief Charles Rushton has announced his retirement. He will spend his last day on the job Oct. 31.
“When you reach a certain part in your life you recognize there are other things you want to accomplish and other challenges you want to take on that can only be done in retirement. I have reached that point in my life,” Rushton said. “I’ve always had an interest in woodworking and I have some equipment that will allow me to hobby farm a little bit as well.”
Rushton said he is also looking forward to spending more time with his family and his grandchildren. He said that family has always been first, it was harder to do while on the job.
“You don’t have that time when you’re working 40 hours a week. Your family gives up a lot when you’re in the policing profession,” he said. “I’ve always recognized that my family was the most important, I was devoting my time and efforts to my work. Now I’d like to devote that time to my family.”
A native of Oxford, the 65-year-old police officer started his career in the early 1970s in Toronto. He came to Amherst in 1975.
He became deputy chief in 1995 before taking over the town’s top policing position in 1998 when then chief Charles Parlee left to work for the provincial Justice Department.
During his career, he was active in the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, holding the presidency for several years. He also represented the association the board of directors for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
He is a recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.
The police department underwent a number of changes during his career, including the implementation of a dispatch service, a major crimes unit, the creation of a the crime prevention officer’s position, the school liaison program, the street crime unit and local intelligence officers.
“We have a very professional, knowledgeable and well-trained police force and it’s something Amherst can be proud of,” Rushton said. “It’s my belief the Amherst department’s recognized through the province as having one of the most professional police departments.”
Deputy chief Ian Naylor will take over as interim chief while the town seeks his permanent replacement.
Rushton said policing has changed a lot since he first entered the profession. Technology has been both a blessing and a curse in that it has expanded the investigative abilities of police officers, but has also required them to spend more time doing things like electronic case management.
Technology has also led to international crimes, such as fraud, touching the local level.
He has also worked at five locations since joining the Amherst department with the town in the process of looking for a new home for the office that was displaced by the major downtown fire in August.
Rushton said policing has seen increased federal and provincial standards that have led to more consistency in operating procedures, while the Human Rights Act and changes in disclosure have also had a significant impact in how police officers do their jobs.
Rushton credited Amherst for being forward thinking in policing by providing and supporting extensive training, while the town and its police commission have also supported initiatives that have increased the department’s community work through awareness programs and the schools.
“We spend a lot of time today trying to educate the public to help them recognize what crimes are and how they might be able to avoid them. As well we’re encouraging their support and assistance in solving those crimes or bringing them to our attention so we can recognize the hot spots,” he said. “We’re very proud of the fact we were one of the first departments to have a formalized school liaison program to the extent we have with officers assigned to each school. It’s worked well for us and helped a good positive relationship with the community.”
Rushton said he is very appreciative of the support given him by the town, the department and the police commission.