East Bay police chief announces his retirement

When Brentwood Police Chief Tom Hansen was named to lead the department, he knew had big shoes to fill with longtime Chief Mark Evenson’s retirement, and now he’s leaving his own.

Hansen, who became chief in January 2018 after 27 years as a Brentwood police officer – and several more elsewhere – announced this week he will retire in late September. An internal recruitment will begin soon, and the city hopes to have a new chief in place to be sworn in on Sept. 28, according to City Manager Tim Ogden.

Hansen, 55, worked under three chiefs over the years, holding the ranks of officer, sergeant, lieutenant and captain, before being named to the top position in late 2017.

During his tenure, he worked with city staff and the City Council to add 12 positions, including five patrol officers, one a community engagement officer, for a total of 72 sworn officers and 39 support staff. He also worked to establish a fifth police beat to increase proactive community policing efforts. And early in his tenure, he implemented a Naloxone program, equipping every officer with opiate reversal medication.

In 2021, Hansen also worked as the acting assistant city manager while the city looked to fill that role and his captains took turns helming the police department.

Ogden said he considers Hansen a friend more than a colleague.

“Tom has redefined the industry standard for police chiefs with his passion and love for law enforcement, his tireless dedication to serving everyone in the community, and unparalleled expertise in leading one of the finest police departments,” he said in a statement. “He will be missed, but we’re excited for him to enjoy this next phase of his life with his family.”

Looking back, Hansen, who also taught criminal justice at Diablo Valley College, said his most difficult moment was when he found a family slain in their home in 2004, something that took a long time to get over.

But helping people through crises also would become what he was most proud of in his work. Hansen recalled the difficulty when he was a young officer of telling parents that their college student had died in a car crash just before Christmas.

“I would never want to be in that position again, but I think I was the right person for the job at that time, to be able to show sympathy and empathy to those parents … to hug and cry with them and help them…

“Not too many people have the opportunity to have a front row seat and people’s lives,” he added. “And, unfortunately, sometimes it’s when they’re going through difficult times. … I don’t know if I really appreciated it as a young officer, but I sure appreciate it now at the end of my career, when I look back to say it was a real honor to wear this police uniform, and to be able to be invited into people’s homes to help them through some of the most difficult times and have an impact on people’s lives.

“I tell my young officers, ‘Don’t miss an opportunity to help someone,’” he added.

His decades of experience have also taught him that the profession of law enforcement is changing rapidly, Hansen said.

“You have to be willing to put the time in and you cannot be thinking three steps ahead,” Hansen said. “You have to be thinking 10 steps ahead. You have to work hard to give your officers the tools, not only physical tools but mental tools to change the way they police their communities based on these emerging new social norms and what the community expects from you. A pretty tough job.”

Hansen also thanked the community and staff for their support.

“I am incredibly proud of the men and women that make up the Brentwood Police Department,” Hansen added. “These past few years have been extremely difficult for our profession, but we have worked together with our community to successfully weather the emerging challenges.”

Following retirement, Hansen said he will move to Scottsdale, Ariz., where his family has already relocated. He plans to look for work there.

But Brentwood will never be far from his thoughts, he said.

“This profession gave me a lot, but the citizens of Brentwood gave me a lot too,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never be able to repay. Brentwood will always be in my heart … and I know we are in good hands because we have some great leadership here.”

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