By Michael S. Hoey


The City of Delavan Police and Fire Commission selected Assistant Police Chief Jim Hansen to replace former Police Chief Tim O’Neill, who retired at the end of August. Hansen was sworn in on Oct. 16.

“This has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life,” Hansen said when he was sworn in.

“I’ve been serving the community for a long time,” he said. “I look forward to serving the men and women of the police department.”

Hansen said that was a huge responsibility, but he has a great team that forms the backbone of the department.

“If they are successful, this community will be successful,” Hansen said. “I will work very hard to make sure they have all the support they need.”
Hansen has been with the City of Delavan Police Department for his entire 27-year career starting as a reserve patrolman. He worked his way up to dispatcher, patrolman, school liaison officer, detective, captain and assistant chief.

Originally from Aurora, Ill., Hansen later lived in Kentucky and Eau Claire before graduating from Delavan-Darien High School. He spent two years in the military and attended PennFoster College online.

When asked what initiatives or programs he has led or been heavily involved in during his career, Hansen said everything he has ever been involved in has been a team effort. Some of those efforts have included expanding training for officers, working with young people in schools, making the schools in the community safer, instituting a peer-assistance program and working on an awards ceremony for officers and members of the community.

Hansen said he learned much from O’Neill, who has continued in his role as fire chief.

“He was a good mentor and was very involved in the community,” Hansen said.

Hansen said patience was the biggest lesson he learned from O’Neill. He said that in a leadership role, one cannot get in a hurry to make a decision. A leader has to evaluate all the possibilities and reach out to all involved.

The commission considered candidates from inside and outside the department. Hansen said promoting from within was good for the city because that person has a connection with the city already and will view the job as more than just a job. That person will have passion for the job and want to do it to the best of their ability.

“I was afforded the opportunity,” Hansen said. “I wanted to steer the ship with more community outreach.”

Hansen said he wants the police department to get as involved as it can with community groups and the schools. Officers are already visiting one neighborhood and one school per shift in an effort to build relationships. The department has been making presentations like the one it made Oct. 18 at the high school during parent-teacher conferences about drug awareness.

The goal of the department under his watch, Hansen said, is to make sure everybody comes into work and does the best job he or she can no matter the situation. He said his department will provide exceptional service to the community while working as a team. Hansen said teamwork carries more weight with him than individual efforts.

In addition to having officers walk a neighborhood and visit a school during each shift, Hansen said another new initiative for the department will be to have the prescription drug collection box open and available all year rather than just a couple of times a year as it has been in the past. He said there is no reason not to make that available as it is important to keep prescription drugs out of the water system.

Hansen said the Delavan-Darien communities are awesome. He lives in the Village of Darien very close to the former Darien Elementary School.

“I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” he said.

Hansen said the three biggest issues facing the community right now are heroin use, identity theft,and prescription drug use by others than who the drugs are prescribed to. He said the department will work hard on all of those problems.

Al Seeman, chairman of the Police and Fire Commission, said the search for a new chief began about four months ago. Numerous advertisements were placed locally and nationally, and the commission received 24 applications. The field was narrowed to those interviewed by phone and then three were interviewed in person. Two of those three received a second interview, and Hansen was selected.

“We got the best man available,” Seeman said. “He has proven to be a loyal, trustworthy, good policeman for over 20 years.”

Seeman said that during the search process all department officers and staff were interviewed as were some stakeholders in the community to see what was wanted and needed in a new chief, and Hansen fit the bill. Seeman cited Hansen’s unquestioned dedication to his job and his exceptional leadership ability.

“He has the experience we were looking for,” Seeman said.

Mayor Mel Nieuwenhuis said the transition from O’Neill to Hansen has been smooth. He said the officers on staff seemed very comfortable with the possibility Hansen might get the job even before the search formally began, and now Hansen will have the opportunity to prove himself.

“The commission did its due diligence in looking at candidates from inside and outside the department,” Nieuwenhuis said.

Nieuwenhuis said the department has experience hiring from within. It also has brought in a new chief from outside the community more than once, and one time it worked out, and another time it did not work out well. O’Neill was promoted from within, and Nieuwenhuis said that worked out well. He said he hoped the hiring of Hansen will work out just as well.

Nieuwenhuis said he was not sure how Hansen would run the department, but he was sure he learned a lot from O’Neill and he will have his own style.

“He will manage the way he thinks is right,” he said.

“I am excited for Chief Hansen,” Nieuwenhuis said. “I think he’ll do a very good job as chief, and he will make the department the best police department it can be.”


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