New Lethbridge chief of police comes from long RCMP career
Shahin Mehdizadeh chosen unanimously by Lethbridge Police Commission
The City of Lethbridge is getting a new police chief from the top ranks of the RCMP.
Shahin Mehdizadeh, who has worked in four provinces during his 32-year policing career, says he will focus on diversity, racism and building bridges with the Indigenous community.
"Building trusting relationships with those communities is critical," he told The Homestretch.
"The fact in Canada is there are seven million immigrants in this country and the immigrant population and Indigenous people, those are the two fastest-growing sectors of our population in Canada.… That is where the future of the country lies, that's the workforce. And in the case of policing, they're people we need to serve and protect and provide policing services to."
Mehdizadeh was chosen unanimously by the Lethbridge Police Commission.
He sees this as a good move both personally and professionally.
"I still have a lot of fuel left in my tank and I joined (the RCMP) when I was a real young punk," he said. "When you come to certain points in your life, you want to look at both your professional development and aspiration and also try to balance that with your personal life. And this opportunity gives us a place to actually make it our home in Alberta."
Mehdizadeh served most recently as the RCMP Chief Superintendent for the central Alberta district.
He said recent events in the news have brought racism to the forefront of policing.
"The bad news about racism is that it's always been there and it will always be there, too. For us to think that at one point we are going to get rid of racism altogether, I don't believe that's the right way of looking at things," he said.
"The good news is over the years and obviously centuries that this has been going on, the human race has made significant strides to make it better, to make it more tolerable and manageable and actually move forward."
Mehdizadeh, who was born in Iran, has optimism that Canada — and policing — are moving in the right direction.
"The majority of the citizens in this country believe in multiculturalism and diversity, and a very few, a minority, really, there's not much people can do to change their minds because that's how they are programmed," he said.
He said his own experience living in Canada has been positive.
"In general, Canada is a great country and one of the leading countries to manage diversity and to give their citizens a better place to live. That's why we have so many people coming to this beautiful country," he said. "And the good news is diversity is becoming a priority for police departments."
Mehdizadeh will officially begin his new role on Aug. 31.
With files from The Homestretch.