POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 33 TRURO — An imposingly large, tidy desk and comfortable chair dominate the corner office of Truro’s new police chief, David MacNeil. But Nova Scotia’s youngest chief, at 37, isn’t sitting there. He’s on a nearby couch — relaxed, approachable, and anxious to talk about the town’s 36-member municipal police force, including where it’s been and where it’s going. “I want to have a very transparent department and to be very open,” said the veteran officer who became chief in October after Ken MacLean retired. “I say, ‘Give me a call.’ I want to hear from people.” Chief MacNeil’s learning curve hasn’t been particularly steep. He’s been on the force 15 years and became its deputy chief in August 2005. He inherited the relatively young force — the bulk of members have five to 10 years of service — at a time when it appears to be experiencing strong public support. Several projects focusing on drugs, traffic issues and young people were implemented in the past year under the former chief and appear to have gone over well with residents. As well, the force was part of a nine-month undercover drug sting that culminated in sweeping raids and nearly 20 arrests throughout Colchester County in September and also helped break up an alleged theft ring in recent weeks. It also appointed an officer this year to work with students at the Cobequid Educational Centre, the region’s largest high school. Chief MacNeil said he intends not only to maintain successful programs but to build on them. “We need to keep that momentum going,” he said. “We have a fairly young, energetic department” but with a “healthy mix” of veterans and newcomers. “We live here, we volunteer here.” Residents attending a recent round of community meetings said mostly positive things about how things are going in the town but wanted the department to have a higher profile with more street patrols. Chief MacNeil will launch a new patrol plan in 2008 to ensure that on-duty officers,who always have more than enough paperwork to do, aren’t at the station doing it at the same time. The chief’s new office is another work in progress. A husband and father, he has family pictures. “But I still need to get some art up, personalize it a bit,” he said, looking around. A bookshelf beside him holds half a dozen police hats he’s collected from contacts in Hong Kong, London, the Philippines, Poland and elsewhere. It’s a hobby for the graduate of J.L. llsley High School in Halifax, who got a double degree in sociology and criminology from Saint Mary’s University and went on to graduate from the Atlantic Police Academy on Prince Edward Island. He did his on-the-job training in Halifax and got his first job in Truro. Chief MacNeil also comes from a family of police officers — he has five cousins in the service in Nova Scotia and Alberta. Nova Scotia has 12 police chiefs, two heading the larger regional police forces in Halifax and Sydney and others in small-to-mid-sized communities. Truro also has a new chairman of its volunteer police board, Allen Bruce, and a new deputy chief, Jim Flemming. “We’re doing a good job,” Chief MacNeil said. “But I also want to hear when we’re not.” ( As originally published The Chronicle Herald By CATHY VON KINTZEL Running the Ship at Age 37 David MacNeil sets his sights on a safe Truro after becoming the province’s youngest police chief Truroʼs new police chief David MacNeil stands outside the downtown offices of the 36-member force. (CATHY VON KINTZEL / Truro Bureau)