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New Fort Wayne police chief and director of public safey sworn in

Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Garry Hamilton, Fort Wayne's new chief of police, and Rusty York, former chief now director of public safety, were both sworn in Thursday morning in the City Council chambers at Citizens Square.

The crowd was standing-room only as Mayor Tom Henry took the podium.

“My administration has a strong commitment to public safety. Having an experienced, professional leadership team in our police department is critical in our efforts to make our city as safe as possible,” Henry said.

With just a very few words Henry called Sandy Kennedy, city clerk, forward to start the swearing in process, starting with York.

“It's always difficult transitioning from one job to the next. I have been chief of police for 14 years, thanks to Mayor Henry, but I am very, very excited about our new administration and these gentlemen and ladies have taken the reins and have already started to make some changes in public safety in Fort Wayne,” York said after being sworn in by Kennedy.

It was York who called Hamilton forward to be sworn in, and it was Pastor Sam Shade Jr. of Pilgrim Baptist Church who pinned on Hamilton's badge of office after he took the oath from Kennedy.

After the ceremony Hamilton said he was feeling great, though a little nervous. Coming off a year with a record-tying 44 homicides, he will have his first staff meeting Monday where he will lay out a plan for fighting crime in the city. Hamilton said he has an excellent command staff to support him, and it will be great for the city of Fort Wayne. He plans on meeting with all of his squads to let them know what he will expect of them. Hamilton is hoping to take a community policing approach and is planning to personally listen to residents' concerns, which he would then relay to his staff. Foot patrols could also be a possibility.

York said his role now is to look at the big picture, which includes fire and police as well as working with the state.

“It's a little bit bitter sweet to be transitioning to something else after 14 years,” York said.

York said he believes the changes are great. Having worked with all the officers he is excited to see what changes they will be implementing in the Fort Wayne Police Department.

Also promoted Thursday was Steven Reed to assistant chief. A 20-year veteran Reed most recently was director of training at the Fort Wayne Police Academy. Derrick Westfield was promoted to deputy chief of the Southeast Division. Westfield, a 17-year veteran, served most recently as captain of the Southwest Division. Scott Berning has been promoted to captain of the Southwest division. Berning, most recently served at the Fort Wayne Police Academy. Deborah Joyner, was promoted to captain in the investigative division. She most recently served as a sergeant n the Southeast division and has been on the force since 1981.