Skip to content

Retiring WRPS Deputy Chief reflects on 32-years, offers advice to his successor

'To leaders everywhere, not just policing - put your people, including your family, ahead of yourself and all will be right in the world,' said Deputy Thaler
Deputy Chief Kevin Thaler
Deputy Chief Kevin Thaler. Photo by Aastha Shetty/KitchenerToday

Deputy Chief Kevin Thaler describes his 32-year career with the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) as one adventure after another.

As a youth, he had three cousins in policing; RCMP, Peel and Toronto Police. He says he intended to pursue RCMP until a detective from the WRPS moved onto his road. “He became a mentor and I quickly saw that policing was essentially the same regardless of where you policed in Canada. That, coupled with positive interactions I had with WRPS as a youth, convinced me that he was right.”

He describes being sworn in as a cadet, at noon, on his last day of high school. “Had someone told me then, that I would end up as a Deputy Chief, I would have told them to give their head a shake,” he said.

During his career, Thaler explored assignments in Patrol, Traffic, Divisional detectives, Homicide, Professional Standards, as well as the Chief's executive officer. “This is a career that exposes you to something different every day.” He remembers fondly the feeling of teamwork in a platoon, where friends were more like family.

About midway through his career it became more about developing others; realizing this was more satisfying than winning himself. “I see officers and civilian professionals emerging in leadership roles, which, even if I had a small part in influencing them, has been immensely satisfying.”

He admits, at times, his decisions were not popular with the remainder of the Service, “but to be true to the position, you do what the Service needs, to be better in the future.”

Highlights included investigations of serious collisions, “though tragic, taking pride in a thorough investigation, with a motivated team and bringing justice for the families of the victims,” were his compensation.

Reflecting, specifically, on his time as Deputy Chief, he says he was most impressed by the Major Crime and Intelligence teams who investigated and obtained convictions in several high-profile homicides – “Nadia Gehl, Erin Howlett and the recent Glen Bauman investigation, conducted largely undercover in another province. These complex investigations do not come together without a committed, confident team.”

In 2018, Deputy Thaler received the Governor General’s Exemplary 30-year-Service Medal in recognition of his loyal and meritorious service to law enforcement in Canada.

He has also volunteered his time to many local community groups, including House of Friendship, Out of the Cold, Ray of Hope, and the Optimist Club of Kitchener-Waterloo. He was also able to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

“To leaders everywhere, not just policing - put your people, including your family, ahead of yourself and all will be right in the world.”

The Waterloo Regional Police Services Board will launch the recruitment process for a new Deputy Chief. Deputy Thaler offered advice to the next Deputy Chief:

  • There are times when it is better to be kind than to be right.
  • Compliment good work by members of any rank or station, in this position your approval goes a long way to putting a friendly, motivated officer out to work in our community.
  • Take an interest in their lives, their families and their accomplishments.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of community – policing succeeds when public health, social development and education succeed. Our partnerships are critical to our success. It can’t always be the police leading.
  • Empower your people, then get out of the way and let them wow you with their creativity and motivation. You need your subordinates more than they need you.
  • At every rank and in every corner, the police service needs to look like the community it serves. We are getting closer, but our work needs to continue in this area.

When asked about retirement, he says he plans to invest time with family and hopes to rediscover the 18-year-old that joined the WRPS three decades ago. He will continue to contribute to the community; including Trees for Woolwich, House of Friendship and any other opportunities that come along.

Rogers Sports & Media
230 The Boardwalk Kitchener, ON, N2N 0B1
© 2006-2022 Rogers Sports & Media. All rights reserved.
Be the first to read breaking stories. Allow browser notifications on your device. What are browser notifications?
No thanks