Just a year and a half into his tenure as Redding Police Chief, Peter Hansen has announced he’s stepping down.
Hansen, who took over for Chief Leonard Moty in November of 2008, will remain on the job until Dec. 3 to help ease the transition to a new chief. He leaves with 27 years of service with Redding Police Department and more than 30 years of law enforcement experience overall.
The decision was motivated in part by wanting to spend more time with his wife and two daughters, Hansen said on Monday. He also indicated that there was more to the decision.
“There have been some professional conflicts here, but I think the best thing for me to do is just move on,” Hansen said. “I don’t think I want to discuss those things publicly.
“Since I’ve been chief, there have been a lot of budget cuts that have been extremely challenging, but the people here at the police department are very good quality employees and they’ve handled those challenges with a great deal of professionalism.”
Earlier this month, the Redding City Council voted 3-2 to cut $2.3 million from the general budget, which included the trimming of four positions from the police department by late June. The council also voted to create a ballot measure that, if passed, would require police, fire department and city employees to pay a portion of their California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
Peace officer unions had declined a proposal to have employees pay a portion of their CalPERS benefits for two years as a concession to the current budget shortfall. The unions had offered other concessions, such as giving up pay raises, to help save money in the face of the recession.
Speaking about the issues that will confront the next chief, Hansen said, “certainly the budget and the economic situation will be one of main challenges. (The new chief) needs to be a person who has a vision for future and a willingness to regrow the department while maintaining a positive relationship with the community.”
To thrive, a police chief needs support from within the department, from the community and from the city council, Hansen said.
“There’s going to be a time when the city recovers and the department starts to grow again,” Hansen said. “But it’s been painful as chief to watch the department take it from one spot to another. It’s not at the high end of my time here. It’s heartbreaking.”
Also looming has been the need for a new police headquarters, which remains a “dramatic” need, said Hansen. He credited the city council for making the new police facility a high priority and hopes it remains that way until funds are located for the “very expensive proposition.”
Hansen was selected as chief following a national search and a multi-stage interview process. A pair of panels, including a community group panel and law enforcement panel, made a recommendation to Redding City Manager Kurt Starman. Starman said he expects the selection process to be similar for the next chief.
Although Hansen’s time as chief has been relatively short, he’s been excellent in the position, Starman said.
“Chief Hansen did an outstanding job and he’ll be missed by both the department and myself,” Starman said. “He certainly earned the trust of his department and he developed and maintained excellent relationships with the community and other law enforcement agencies in the area. It’ll be a challenge to find a replacement.”
Starman added that he’s been aware of Hansen’s retirement plans for some weeks and has notified the city council about the decision. Hansen did an excellent job in adjusting to budget reductions, while maintaining high quality service to the community, Starman added.
“I know he did quite a bit of soul searching and he made the decision that makes the most sense for himself and the department,” Starman said.
Hansen praised his predecessors, former chiefs Moty and Bob Blankenship, saying both men helped improve the department during their tenures. Blankenship helped enhance training, professionalism and accountability, and took on gangs and the issue of parolees being dumped in the area, Hansen said. Moty was very active in the community and a great leader, he said.
Hansen said he has no professional plans at the moment other than spending time with family and home projects. He reserved most of his praise for the department itself and the employees who will carry on once he has departed.
“One thing I’d like your readers to know is we have really outstanding employees here at the Redding Police Department,” Hansen said.
“One reason we can enjoy living in a safe community is the job they do. These people work hard every single day.”
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .