Police change of command turns out to be a hug in – local boy returns to his roots.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 4, 2012  It was more of a love in than a change of command – even though one guy gave the other guy a sword.  Steve Tanner had come home and they were lined up to give him hugs or salute him.  The Region was swearing in its new Chief of Police at the Burlington Convention Centre where it was a standing room only event.

It was standing room only for the Change of Command and Swearing in of the new Chief of Police at the Burlington Convention Centre Tuesday. While not a very useful picture, this one shows just how packed the room was.

There was a Pipe band, a choir, a colour party and an invocation from the Chaplain, and everyone reminding the audience that the Region was the safest in the country for the past five years.

Steve Tanner, who started his career as a Constable in Burlington,  was back 17 years later as the Region’s Chief of Police.  Along the way he was a deputy chief  in Guelph and Belleville and then a Chief in Belleville and Kingston.

The swearing in turned into a reception with Chief Tanner accepting congratulations and a few words of advice from all those who chose to shake his hand. The Chief wanted to “shake” while the citizen wants to make a point.

There were accolades galore but there wasn’t much about what the new Chief was going to do.

But before the new Chief took command the event took the time to recognize the job Chief Crowell did during his command.

Crowell brought in a focus on women in the police service that was not as evident before he arrived to serve as the fifth chief of police.   Crowell introduced new budget and cost controls.  He introduced a higher level of transparency and efficiency.  He also recognized the changing make up of the community and ensured that the different faiths were recognized and accommodated.  Child and female abuse were aspects of policing that he paid particular attention to as well.

Gary Crowell turned the sword of office over to Steve Tanner, saluted the new Chief and became part of the history of the Halton Regional Police Service.

While being sworn in Steve Tanner promised to be loyal to the Queen, loyal to the constitution of Canada and both faithful and impartial in carrying out his duties as police chief.

It was clear from the background on Tanner that he is a good administrator and he is going to get every new toy the police service needs.  Much mention was made of the growth of the police service – an additional 369 officers since Tanner left.  But not a word about the budget or the crime issues the community faces.

Identity theft is rampant and it is our seniors that take the hardest hits on that one.  Armed robbery is consistent – not very high but consistent.

Mention was made of transparency and the need to respect each other.  All the words that the spin masters use were trotted out.

Tanner made mention of the people in Burlington who were formative in the development of his career.  There were a number of people he chose to remember very fondly.

We don`t yet know what kind of police chief Tanner will be.  Is he part of the new breed that understands and can work with the technology that wasn’t even thought of during his days as a Constable?  Is the shift in the demographic makeup of the community something he is really tuned into?  Does he understand the mentality of the young people that grow up in Burlington?  Does he have a solid grip and understanding of how devastating the drug trade is and the role it plays in the crime in the Region?

In the next year we will gain a better understanding of the man who now leads our police service.

One of the only people in the room carrying a weapon was this officer from the Tactical Rescue Unit. Wasn’t sure about the look he was giving me.

For the most part Burlington has an excellent police service; one that is seldom challenged because the community is close to crime free.  No mention was made of the number of officers we sent to the G20 conference in Toronto and what part they may have played in that event.

Domestic abuse doesn’t seem to be a problem in Burlington.  We don’t hear a word about pedophiles.  We do hear quite a bit about drug busts and Burlington got swept up in a banking machine scam that was taking place everywhere but the arrests were done by Burlington – so we got the TV coverage on that.

Every chief officer brings their own style to the job.  Steve Tanner has solid roots in the community and understands it well – what we are getting is a man from the community who brings back solid experience gained elsewhere in the province.  He also sports a mustache he didn’t appear to have in earlier pictures.

That and a badge (the same one he wore 17 years ago # 1214) should have him settled in his office nicely.  Time for us to take a look at the current police budget and business plan.

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