Stewart Editorial: Chief Wardwell Will be Missed

ERIN E. STEWART: Chief Wardwell will be missed

All around us, there are unsung heroes contributing to the wellbeing of our community. Their long hours, hard work, and acts often go unnoticed, but their impact is tremendous and far reaching. In just a few short months, we will say good bye to Police Chief James Wardwell, who will be retiring from his city position.

Chief Wardwell and I have become close friends over the years, and it deeply saddens me to say good bye to someone who has poured his heart and soul into our community for the last 25 years-six and a half of which were as chief.

Since taking over as police chief in July 2012, Chief Wardwell has ushered in a new era for the New Britain Police Department in a number of ways. He’s brought a high level of professionalism to a department that had grown weary after a period of disarray and public distrust. He’s well respected and has become a visible and welcoming presence in our community. He’s transformed the culture of the department for the better.

From monthly NRZ (Neighborhood Revitalization Zone) meetings, community Q&A’s with residents at housing complexes, Common Council meetings, community events, and more-Chief Wardwell has been there supporting our students, residents, and business owners. He takes time out of his busy schedule to chat with residents at events in our parks and after long Common Council meetings because he genuinely wants to get to know you and hear what you have to say, regardless if the feedback is positive or negative. His heart is with New Britain.

Even in the face of criticism, Chief Wardwell is a consummate professional, working to ensure that protesters are safe and that they can practice their 1st Amendment right in a peaceful manner.

He’s been an immense inspiration to those around him. Starting with our police recruits, he expects the department’s officers to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to honor the Police code. In recent years, the department has promoted a diverse team of leaders, including the City’s first female captain in the department’s 147 year old history. Those around Chief Wardwell often lead by example, just as he has.

Chief Wardwell’s community policing approach to protecting and serving all our neighborhoods has helped to play a role in the transformation of New Britain. Under Chief Wardwell’s leadership, there’s been a reduction in major crimes, the hiring of a Deputy Chief for the first time in more than a decade, breakthroughs in several major cold cases, the introduction of a new community policing tool called Solve It NB, and many accomplishments that we can all be proud of.

Chief Wardwell truly cares about the direction of our City and we are lucky to have had him as our Police Chief over the last six and a half years. He has set a standard of respect and work ethic that many communities strive for, but never fully realize. Under his leadership, New Britain residents are safer.

Join me in thanking Chief Wardwell!

I’ll miss you, “work Dad.”

Your guiding presence and patient way have taught me how to be a better mayor and person.

Godspeed on your new journey.

Erin E. Stewart is the mayor of New Britain.

This article originally appeared in the New Britain Herald.