There are many things about Chief Brian Mullan that are impressive. Be it his 35 years of distinguished service, his innovative approach to policing or his resolve in tackling the tough issues that cities of Hamilton's size face, it is clear that we will be losing one heck of a public servant when he retires at the end of this year. Although in comparison to his other accomplishments this example pales , one of the things that impressed me about Chief Mullan was his routine appearances on Cable 14, fielding questions from Hamiltonians. It may appear less significant than his many other achievments, but, for me, that was a shining example of good leadership and engagement.
The Hamiltonian is honoured to have Chief Brian Mullan on 10 Tough Questions.
1. As outgoing Chief of Police, what advice might you have for the new Chief?
Stay focused on our mission, vision and values. Make sure you understand our community needs. Our Members are our greatest resource and we have to make sure we give them the necessary tools to serve our community well.
2. What would you say was your greatest accomplishment during your tenure as Chief of Police?
I have had many accomplishments however if I have to pick one I'd have to say I came into this position promising that I would be the most accessible Chief Hamilton has ever had. When I say this I mean accessible to our members and all segments in our community. I have worked hard on this and I believe I have accomplished what I've promised.
3. Crime rates are often compared to other cities and often times, such a comparison is useful in terms of putting crime rates into perspective. Parking that for a moment however, how would you describe how safe the streets of Hamilton are (for example, the downtown core), to a loved one? What advice might you give him or her, in relationship to crime and the safety of our streets, particularly if that person was to frequent the downtown core at night?
Hamilton has received a bad and inaccurate reputation in regards to crime in our city. We have lower crime rates than any city in Canada with a population over 500,000.
I have no hesitation going anywhere in Hamilton and my loved ones don't either. My advice to everyone is simple, go with your instincts. If you don't feel comfortable in any situation back away from it. Use common sense. Know your surroundings and who you are dealing with.
4. Reflecting upon your service as Chief of police, if you had to identify one regret , what might that be?
I have tried very hard to be fair and to do my best in every situation I have faced. I have used a management style that is inclusive, calling on advise from experts and my executive team when dealing with difficult situations.
I wish we could have done more, as a community, to help those who are facing addictions. Addictions is a major factor in crime in Hamilton. It's one of the root causes of crime we, as a police service, have to deal with day in and day out.
5. In the event of a terrorist attack or some other catastrophic event, how prepared would you say that the Police service is as first responders?
We, as a community, are well prepared to address any emergency situation. We are well trained, well equipped and all of our emergency response workers are committed to do the best they can in all situations.
6. What was the most challenging part of your role and how did you meet that challenge?
The Chief has very little downtime. You have to commit to working in excess of 60 hours most weeks of the year. I believe I met that obligation/challenge well. I went to as many events and functions I possibly could have.
7. What factors do you feel led the HWPS to be one of Canada’s top fifty employers and do you see this trend continuing?
I think our internal systems support our Members well. We are an open, value driven organization that works hard to help our members reach their potential and to attain their dreams.
8. If you could have the attention of all Hamiltonians for 5 minutes, what advice would you give them with respect to keeping their communities safe?
Don't sit back and let crime happen around you. Be vocal and hold others accountable when they do things that are wrong. Help your neighbours and commit to work in partnership with them and the police to make your neighbourhood safe.
9. Drugs and in particular, the use of "crack" cocaine, has resulted in some homes or neighbourghoods in Hamilton being known as "crack houses" or places to buy drugs. Why is it so difficult solving this problem, what gains have we made, and what else needs to be done- given that the problem is still visible.
Someone can turn a home into a crackhouse in less that 48 hours. Once the crackhouse comes to the attention of police we have to follow the rules of the law to remedy the situation. It takes several weeks for us to accumulate the necessary level of evidence to do anything. We want to make sure that when we go into a crackhouse we close it down and it doesn't re-open a day later.
One thing I emphasize regularly is the need to let the police know when you think there is a crackhouse in your neighbourhood. People wait to long and as time goes on the problem becomes more difficult to solve.
10. With the economic situation has the HWRS changed any strategies to be proactive against the possibility of an increase the crime?
We have changed in several ways to address the changes we have and will face in the future. He have adopted an operational model that's called the Neighbourhood Safety Project. This project has allowed our officers to address neighbourhood issues head on and more quickly.
In addition to the above, we proactive intelligence led policing. We obtain intelligence to identify individuals who are responsible for large volumes of crime. We then develop enforcement strategies against those suspects. It is one of the factors that has led us to have almost half the number of break-ins and auto thefts we had in 1998.
Special thanks to Chief Mullan for his leadership and service to Hamilton. Also, special recognition to the fine men and women who serve in the Hamilton Police Service. Finally, special thanks to my good friend RB, who helped me formulate these questions.