New deputy police chief pledges to rebuild 'fractured' trust with 'diverse communities'
'Trust is key for police to function in society,' says deputy chief Paul Hamilton
Hamilton's new deputy police chief began his role on Monday with a pledge to rebuild trust between the service and local communities.
Paul Hamilton, a 31-year member of the Hamilton Police Service, was named deputy chief of support services. In his speech he stressed the need to reach diverse communities and try to repair the relationship between them and police.
"Trust is key for police to function in society," he said, after receiving his badge.
"Trust in this community, for some communities, is severely fractured with police so that is one of my priorities."
Police chief Frank Bergen said Hamilton is committed to community safety and has a knack for finding solutions.
He described the new deputy chief as an "ideas guy" and credited him with recent initiatives such as the ongoing hate crime review and releasing use of force statistics.
"Paul leans into everything," said Bergen. "Paul is always in the moment, Paul is ready to do anything."
The hate crime review is looking to work with local organizations to review cases and provide recommendations and feedback on training.
Hamilton said he hopes it will help "bring in our diverse community to discuss how we investigate hate crimes, look to break down barriers in reporting and improve outcomes for victims."
He also pointed to the service's move to make the role of its LGBTQ liaison officer permanent as a step toward rebuilding trust.
Lack of diversity an 'issue,' says mayor
Critics have pointed to a lack of diversity on the police service board and among its leadership.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who chairs the police board, acknowledged it's a "legitimate issue."
Thirteen candidates, some of whom had "diverse" backgrounds, applied for the deputy chief job, but Hamilton was selected unanimously, said the mayor.
"We certainly would have liked to see that in the leadership realm, but at the end of the day qualifications matter, experience matters, their ability to move in here and do the job matters," said Eisenberger.
"Even though we had diverse candidates apply, some of them got to the interview process, at the end of the day the board felt given all of those issues, Paul still came out on top."
The new deputy chief studied sociology and criminology at the University of Ottawa, according to a media release from the Hamilton Police Services Board. He most recently held the position of acting deputy chief — which was made permanent on Tuesday.
Before that, Hamilton spent time as superintendent of investigative services and as a command lead on several major cases.
The fact that the new deputy chief shares a name with the city he's lived in all his life also wasn't lost on the crowd that gathered outside the central station to witness his appointment.
"The name had nothing to do with our choice," quipped the mayor.
Hamilton thanked his family for the support and said he is "committed to working to create solutions and better outcomes for all."