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Sarnia Police looks within its ranks to select new leadership

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Troy Shantz

Norm Hansen says he intends to be open and accessible to the public.

“I’ve never used the term ‘no comment,’” said the Inspector and 33-year Sarnia Police Service veteran.

“(If I didn’t know) I always would say, ‘I don’t know that yet, I’ll find out for you.’”

Hansen will field a lot more questions beginning June 1 when he becomes Sarnia’s new chief of police, taking the reins from retiring Chief Phil Nelson.

Hansen joined the force in 1985 and progressed through the ranks as constable, sergeant, staff sergeant and eventually inspector.

Along with a commitment to clear communication with the public, he said he will focus on transparency, adopting new technologies and promoting strong community relationships.

“When I was hired, I was hired by the Sarnia Police Force. It’s now the Sarnia Police Service, and that’s what the public expects compared to what they expected 30 years ago,” he said.

“Our officers need to continue that attitude.”

Hansen holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Windsor and is a certified Municipal Manager Police Executive.

He will be joined at the top by fellow Sarnia Police veteran Inspector Owen Lockhart, taking over as deputy chief when Bob Farlow retires in May.

Lockhart holds a sociology degree from the University of Guelph and started as a constable with Sarnia Police in 1990. He became a Staff Sergeant in 2012.

“Through my career I’ve been in almost every division as a constable or a supervisor, so I have a good working knowledge of operations,” he said.

Chair Mike Bradley said the Sarnia Police Board interviewed six internal applicants who were seeking the position of chief. A decision was made with input from the Board, Sarnia Police Association and Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Joanne Rogers, he said.

“That’s different; no one else does that,” Bradley said of the band’s involvement. “I’m hoping this will send a message to other police services.”

Chief Nelson and Deputy Chief Farlow announced their retirements last year.

Nelson says he will be spending the coming months prepping Hansen for the transition, but said he doesn’t expect it will be a big adjustment for either officer.

“They’re involved in daily decisions, all the sort of aspects of it,” he said. “That learning curve is greatly reduced.”

He has had a 44-year career with Sarnia Police, rising through the ranks to become chief in 2009.

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