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City taps new chief of police

Ex-patrol officer to be 1st black to hold post


– Garry Hamilton will be the city’s next police chief, Mayor Tom Henry announced Monday.

Hamilton is a 19-year veteran of the force and will be the first black to hold the post.

“Garry is experienced, he’s disciplined, he has leadership skills, he has integrity, and he’s respected by his peers and by the community,” Henry said.

Hamilton also takes over a department battling a seeming tidal wave of homicides – there have been 44 homicides in Allen County, the same as the record-setting year of 1997. All but two have been in the city of Fort Wayne.

Hamilton has been with the Fort Wayne Police Department since 1994. Most recently, he’s served as deputy chief of the southeast quadrant. In addition, Hamilton has held positions of deputy chief of the northeast quadrant, liaison officer to the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office, captain of the southeast quadrant, and sergeant in internal affairs.

Outgoing Chief Rusty York said Hamilton’s experience will be especially helpful.

“I think what I saw in him, and what the mayor saw in him was his commitment to the community, but also his years of experience as a homicide investigator and as a liaison to the prosecutor’s office,” York said. “He’s been a terrific member of the command staff.”

As The Journal Gazette reported last week, word leaked Thursday that Hamilton had been chosen, a move praised by the city’s Urban League and Black Chamber of Commerce. City officials refused to confirm the reports until the announcement Monday morning.

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said a good working relationship between the police who investigate cases and the prosecutors who take them to court is critical – and she and Hamilton go way back.

“There’s great trust between he and I, and I’m really looking forward to working with him,” Richards said. “I don’t think a better appointment could have been made.”

Hamilton, smiling shyly and speaking softly, told a contingent of media at Monday’s announcement that he was proud to be there and grateful to York for mentoring him.

“Our goal and objective is to make the city safe,” Hamilton said.

Deputy Chief Marty Bender said Hamilton has a great relationship with the community – which is key to getting the tips and witnesses needed to solve crimes. It will also help that Hamilton came up through the ranks, he said, starting as a patrol officer.

“That’s the only way to do it, in my opinion,” Bender said.

“He’s got a good handle on what’s going on. I think he’ll do quite well.”

Hamilton, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Manchester University, begins as chief Jan. 1, when York begins his new assignment as director of Public Safety. A swearing-in ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 2 in the Council Courtroom on the garden level in Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.