Dedicated police officers always make a difference. But few have had a more profound impact on their community than Garry Hamilton, who retired this week after 25 years with the Fort Wayne Police Department.
In 2014, Hamilton became the city's first black police chief. He gave the job everything he had, using his position to break down barriers between minorities and the department but also to explain to wider audiences the need for alternatives to traditional policing. He promoted openness and transparency within the department. Taking office just after a record year for homicides, Hamilton, a former homicide detective, responded with a newly organized violent crime unit that sought to take the worst offenders off the streets.
Then, just two years after he became chief, Hamilton decided to step down. He wanted a deputy chief job that would allow him to spend more of his time on the kind of policing he was best at – connecting directly with the community.
That he deeply cared about the people he served and protected was evident long before his high-profile final years on the force. Rusty York, who led the department before Hamilton, told The Journal Gazette's Jamie Duffy the tenacity Hamilton showed in trying to solve murder cases led him to predict that Hamilton would one day be chief.
Pursuing criminals requires persistence and courage; dealing with victims of crimes and families of victims who want the police to do more requires empathy and sensitivity. Hamilton utilized all of those skills.