A reader, a retired Calgary police officer, wrote to correct something I had said about outgoing Calgary Chief Jack Beaton.
Somehow the word had gotten out in the flurry of news pieces about Beaton announcing his decision not to seek a contract extension, that he had been Calgary’s longest serving Chief Constable. I got the information from a column written by the always entertaining Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun. The information, wherever it came from initially, is inaccurate.
Chief Brian Sawyer, who served from 1973 to 1984 and by all accounts was a good one, served much longer. He came from the Mounties in Victoria to take the top job. It was he who brought in such crime prevention initatives such as Crime Stoppers and Blockwatch. Sawyer retired from the police in 1984 and went on to become the provincial Ombudsman.
But there are a few others who held the office longer than Beaton too. Chief Samual Patterson served for nine years from 1941 – 1950 and Chief Lawrence Partridge served from 1952 to 1964 and probably brought about the most change to the Service than any other before or since. And those are the modern day chiefs who served in the office longer than Beaton.
Thomas English served from 1891 to 1909 as Chief Constable of the fledgling police service. But the longest serving Chief was David Ritchie who held the office from 1919 to 1941. Ritchie was a decorated war hero when he took the top job and held it until his last days when he died having a gall bladder operation. He held the office for 22 years and is claimed to be the father of the modern day Calgary Police Service.
Whatever else history may say about Jack Beaton’s tenure as Chief Constable, he was not the longest servicng person in that office. And on that point alone, I stand corrected.