Mayor Tom Henry announced Monday the appointment of Garry Hamilton, a 19-year veteran with the department, as the new police chief of Fort Wayne.
The announcement was not a surprise after recent widespread speculation on Hamilton as the next chief. Henry said he made the choice based on Hamilton's strong leadership and communications skills and the respect his peers in the community have for him. Hamilton will assume his new duties Jan. 1 and will be sworn in on Jan. 2.
“Garry's top priorities in his new position will be to develop a strategic plan to address the homicides in our community as well as other criminal activities," Henry said. "He will strengthen his communications with the neighborhoods and businesses within our city as well as the police department as a whole.”
The city is currently tied with 1997 for a record 44 homicides.
Henry also said Hamilton, who will be the Fort Wayne Police Department's first African-American police chief, will be using technology and will work as a liaison with other law enforcement agencies in the community.
"I am honored to have been asked by Mayor Henry to serve as police chief," Hamilton said.
Stressing his record of 19 years he said he and his staff are dedicated to the city of Fort Wayne. He thanked Chief Rusty York for his years of mentoring.
Hamilton began his police career as a patrolman, then served 14 years as a detective in the robbery and homicide division before being promoted to the sergeant in the division. He later served in the Office of Internal Affairs where he became a captain. From there he went to the Southeast Division as captain, and then to a liaison officer for the Allen County prosecutor's office. From there he was promoted to deputy chief in the northeast quadrant, he was then transferred to the southeast quadrant where he has been serving.
After the announcement, he said he has been gone from the homicide division for seven years so he will be looking into its current protocol for investigations to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed. As a starting point he would like to give the homicide victim's family more accessibility to the detectives working the case. Hamilton said it is too early to tell what leadership roles he may be changing within the structure of the FWPD.
York said Hamilton's experience, expertise and strong ties to the community and the prosecutor's office were all important considerations in choosing him. York said this year has been an anomaly in homicides. Hamilton's biggest asset will be bringing in a new set of eyes to see what could be done, or changed. His immediate challenge will be putting together his own staff, York said.
“There will be some changes; every chief has to have a staff he is comfortable with,” York said.
Hamilton has a near flawless record with only one disciplinary action in 2005, a letter of reprimand for a police vehicle accident. Over the years he has accumulated five letters of commendation and one meritorious service citation.