New Police Chief Rick Zormier, a Hobart native, joined by his children Maverick, 8, and Rubie, 15, speaks after he was sworn in during a press conference in the Hobart police training room in Hobart, Ind. Friday March 1, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2013 6:10AM
HOBART — Sgt. Rick Zormier, 42, a 191/2-year veteran of the Hobart Police Department, was named police chief during a news conference Friday as his family, fellow officers, neighboring police chiefs and city officials looked on.
Flanked by his daughter Rubie, 15, and son Maverick, 8, Zormier said he looks forward to the new challenge and his goal is to improve the efficiency of the department’s operations.
Addressing the bad publicity that has plagued the department recently — including several officers being involved in a towing scandal and another charged with theft and fraud on a financial institution — Zormier said the department has itself to blame for much of the problem.
“You can be sure that the members of the department have felt the embarrassment of the negative perception that has occurred. The citizens of Hobart deserve a Police Department that operates with integrity and transparency, and we owe it to them to ensure they get it,” Zormier said.
He said he met with staff before the news conference and told officers the department needs to move forward as a team, to have one mission.
Asked how he would manage the department in light of the scandals and morale issues, Zormier said he wants to take his time to determine the direction in which he will take it.
“I want to be thorough,” he said.
Zormier has not named a deputy chief yet and said there is no timetable for when he will make a decision.
The selection process was done with the help of REM-Inc. consultants. Zormier said Dan McDevitt, co-founder of REM-Inc. and a Hobart native, has agreed to stay on as a mentor/consultant for the department at no additional cost.
“I think he’ll do a phenomenal job,” Mayor Brian Snedecor said of Zormier. “He is very strong on training and budgetary structuring. And he has a solid rapport with the officers. That was important for me. It’s positive for morale.”
Snedecor said Zormier was a top candidate throughout the process, noting the new chief has legal knowledge as a graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, was public affairs director during Snedecor’s own turn as police chief and is active in the community.
Snedecor said he decided to hire a consultant to help choose the new chief because he wanted to make clear to employees in the Police Department and the community that he wouldn’t meddle in the department.
“Up to the final step, I didn’t take part in the process,” Snedecor said.
Zormier was patrol supervisor for the past five years. He grew up in Hobart, received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Indiana University Northwest and worked in Lake Station for about two years. He formerly served as president of the Hobart Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 121 five different times.
Zormier replaces former Police Chief Jeff White, who stepped down in January in an agreement with the mayor. Vance Thompson, who served as White’s deputy chief, served as interim chief. Thompson said he did not apply for the top job.