Shahin Mehdizadeh was named the successful candidate in Lethbridge’s search for a new chief of police on June 29, and on Monday, the soon-to-be top cop visited his new home.
Mehdizadeh will join the Lethbridge Police Service after most recently serving as the RCMP chief superintendent for the Central Alberta District, responsible for 24 detachments.
He said making the jump to municipal policing was a choice that will hopefully allow him to make the final move of his career.
“At some point, after 32 years almost, this makes sense for both my professional and personal life,” he said. “I know I can settle here until I retire, and by that time, I may move on to do different things or just be done with it.
“This gives me that stability in life to be in one community and be able to serve the rest of my time as a police officer in this community.”
Mehdizadeh has moved around a lot in both his professional and personal life.
Born and raised in Iran, he said his family left his birth country in 1979 because of the Iranian Revolution. Then, he spent about five years living in New Delhi, India, before moving to Canada in 1984.
He began his policing career with the RCMP in Banff in 1989, and has lived and worked across the country since.
“I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve lived in six provinces in Canada,” Mehdizadeh said.
LPS has been under the watch of interim Chief Scott Woods since October 2019, following the resignation of former chief Rob Davis in July.
During his nearly five years at the helm for LPS, Davis was accused of bullying and a toxic work environment; Woods — who served as deputy chief before temporarily taking over for Davis — has also faced allegations of tyrannical and bullying behaviour.
But the newly appointed chief said he hopes his leadership style will encourage a positive working environment at the LPS.
“I have an open-door policy, and by open-door policy, I mean open door,” he said.
“I want to engage with every Lethbridge Police Service employee, uniform or non-uniform. It’s critical for me to be present and visible with employees internally to make sure I hear what they have to say, what they have to contribute.”
Mehdizadeh said he is aware of some of the issues Lethbridge has faced but doesn’t want to start planning until he gets to the city.
“Until I come here and really get a good, firsthand look at things, I can’t really comment on that,” he said.
Mehdizadeh will assume his new role on Aug. 31.