This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. Please help improve it by replacing them with more appropriate citations to reliable, independent, third-party sources. (June 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Hamilton Police Service
Logo of Hamilton Police Service
Logo of Hamilton Police Service
Official coat of arms granted by Canadian Heraldic Authority
MottoTogether. Stronger. Safer.
Agency overview
FormedMarch 11, 1833
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionCanada
Legal jurisdictionHamilton, Ontario
Governing bodyCity of Hamilton Police Services Board
Constituting instrument
Operational structure
Headquarters155 King William Street
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8N 4C1
Sworn members829
Unsworn members414
Elected officer responsible
Agency executive
Station / Divisions3

The Hamilton Police Service (HPS) is the municipal police service of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. As of 2021, the service employed 829 sworn officers and 414 non-sworn staff, serving a population of about 570 000 residents.[1] The service is headquarted at 155 King William St., Hamilton, Ontario.

As of 2022, the service's budget is $183 542 539, roughly 18.5% of the City's overall budget.[2] It is one of the oldest police forces in Ontario.


Photo of the Hamilton Police Force posing in front of Dundurn Castle in 1889.

The Town of Hamilton was incorporated by Upper Canadian Parliament on February 13, 1833. On March 11 of that year, High Bailiff John Ryckman was appointed as Hamilton's first police officer.[3]

In 1848, neighbouring Dundas raised its own municipal police force, followed two years later by Ancaster.[3] The Township of Saltfleet and Town of Stoney Creek followed suit in 1940 and 1949, respectively.[3]

On January 1, 1974, Wentworth County was reorganized to form the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Municipality, and these police forces, along with the Ontario Provincial Police detachments covering the remainder of the county, were amalgamated to form the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force.[3]

In 1986, the Hamilton Harbour Police, an unarmed special constabulary maintained by the Hamilton Harbour Commission, was folded into the Hamilton Wentworth Regional Police Force.[4]

Members of the Hamilton Police Honour Guard march in the funeral of honourary police chief Lincoln Alexander.

In 1999, Lincoln Alexander, Ontario's lieutenant governor from 1985 to 1991 and Canada's first Black Member of Parliament, was named honorary chief of police of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force.[5] When Alexander passed in 2009, his casket was carried by members of the Hamilton Police Honour Guard.

On January 1, 2001, the communities of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek and Hamilton were amalgamated to form the new single-tier City of Hamilton. At the same time, the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force was renamed and reorganized to become the Hamilton Police Service.[3]


Police services board

Like all municipalities in Ontario, the City of Hamilton maintains a police services board, responsible for overseeing policing services in the City.[7] The board approves the police budget, hires the chief and deputy chiefs of police directly, and is the legal employer of every Hamilton Police employee.[7] Although the board sets overall service policy and direction, it has no operational control over the service or its officers, and day-to-day policing decisions are the exclusive jurisdiction of the police chief.

The board is composed of seven members: the mayor (or their designate); two city councillors; one member of the public appointed by city council; and three members of the public appointed by the province.[7] As of 2022, it consists of:

Name Position Appointed by
Pat Mandy Chair Province
Fred Bennink Vice-chair Hamilton City Council
Andrea Horwath Mayor ex officio
Robert Elms Member Province
Cameron Kroetsch Councillor Hamilton City Council
Esther Pauls Councillor Hamilton City Council
Mel Athulathmudali Member Province

Special constabularies

In addition to maintaining the Hamilton Police Service, the Board is responsible for approving and overseeing special constabularies that operate in the City. Currently, there is only one special constabulary operating in the City of Hamilton that falls under the jurisdiction of the Board, the McMaster University Campus Security Service.[8]

Historically, the Board was responsible for two other special constabularies in Hamilton: the Harbour Police and Parks Police. The Parks Police force was disbanded in 1963, in response to union-mandated wage hikes,[9] while the Harbour Police force was amalgamated into the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force in 1986.[4]

Rank structure

Hamilton's distinctive badge and slip-on epaulettes, as worn by former Chief of Police Eric Girt.
Rank Commanding officers Senior officers Police officers
Chief of police Deputy chief of police Superintendent Inspector Staff sergeant Sergeant Constable



(shoulder board)

Shoulder boards not used for these ranks

Sworn investigators employed by the Hamilton Police hold the ranks of Detective Constable or Detective Sergeant, but these ranks are equivalent to Sergeant and Staff Sergeant, respectively.[10]

Unlike other Ontario police services, all Hamilton Police officers wear shields on their chest. Members at the rank of Sergeant and above have their rank listed on the badge in a blue oval, and members at the rank of Inspector and above have gold shields.


The Hamilton Police Service operates out of three police stations: Central, which covers the northwestern portion of the old City of Hamilton; East End, which covers the southeastern portion of the old City of Hamilton and the entirety of the old Town of Stoney Creek; and Mountain, which covers the remainder of the amalgamated City of Hamilton.[11]

Specialized units


The ACTION Team (Assessing Crime Trends In Our Neighbourhoods) was launched in 2010, in response to crime and safety concerns in downtown Hamilton.[12] The Team was later expanded to include five teams of seven officers,[13] and by 2016, had made 5 000 arrests and issued 23 000 tickets.[12] As of 2023, the Team is deployed across the City of Hamilton in response to safety concerns or crime spikes, and conducts patrols on foot or by bicycle.[14]

It has faced criticism for using a quota-based model for its policing strategy, and in 2015, five members of the team were charged criminally for making, counting, but never issuing bogus tickets to inflate their ticket statistics.[13] The Team's use of random street checks (popularly referred to as "carding") attracted particular criticism from community advocates and City councillors, who cited statistics that showed that racialized Hamiltonians were disproportionately carded by the Team.[15] The practice was banned by the provincial government in 2017.[16]

Auxiliary police unit

A Hamilton Police Auxiliary Constable receives water from a local storeowner on a hot summer's evening.

The auxiliary police were established in the early 1960s as a response to societal changes. Civil unrest throughout the world had the police service question its ability to deal with large-scale chaos. The principal goal was to create an auxiliary force made up of volunteer, unpaid officers who could be called upon to assist the regular force if problems were ever to arise. The auxiliary police are required to go through various training seminars, as well as maintain a high degree of physical fitness. Although in uniform, they function under very strict guidelines and do not substitute for regular officers. Instead, they assist in the processes when constables required a large, organized support.

The auxiliary police work at parades or during long weekends, at rallies, or large events where police presence is required on a larger scale than usual. They are identified with a shoulder flash that says 'auxiliary'. They also wear a traditional light-blue shirt whereas sworn officers wear navy blue uniforms.


The first known record of dogs being used in policing the Hamilton community was in 1878, when an old stray dog the officers named "Bob" was taken in and routinely brought on night patrol to accompany an officer named Constable Ferris on his beat. Bob was not trained for special tasks, but often acted as a deterrent to those who had the potential to create trouble.

In 1960 the Hamilton Police Department acquired two dogs with the intent of training them for special circumstances. Hamilton Police had the second municipal canine unit in Canada. Their names were Sandy and King. The dogs were used for many functions which made the officers’ jobs safer and easier. Due to their keen senses, dogs were trained to track suspects or missing persons, search buildings, and to locate weapons and bombs. They were also trained to disarm criminals threatening the life of an officer. The dogs used as police dogs were for the most part German Shepherds. They are used because of their fierce loyalty, relatively even temperament, imposing physical presence and easy trainability.

The dogs train with a constable who is responsible for the dog both on and off the job. They live with officers' families which allows a constant relationship between the dogs and their handlers to develop. Much of the time, the dogs are in training to maintain the skills they have acquired. Today Hamilton Police deploy four police service dogs (PSD). Each dog is trained in human scent detection and tracking. PSDs are also used for drug detection, firearms and currency. Hamilton Police also deploy a PSD for explosives detection.

Hamilton has had one PSD killed in the line of duty - PSD Troy killed February 25, 1992 (shot by a suspect during an apprehension).

Crisis response

The Crisis Response Unit consists of three specialized units that respond to different niches of social disorder: the Crisis Support & Outreach Team; the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team; and the Social Navigation Program.[17]

The Crisis Support & Outreach Team (COAST) is a partnership between the Hamilton Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and serves residents in need of long-term mental health supports. The Team is responsible for connecting clients to care options, helping clients complete mental health assessments in partnership with police, and providing urgent, over-the-phone crisis support to the client and their caregivers and family members.[18]

Like COAST, the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team is a partnership between the Hamilton Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and is responsible for responding to urgent crisis calls made to 9-1-1 between the hours of 8 AM and 4 AM, seven days a week.[19] The teams consist of a uniformed, specially-trained officer and a mental health professional responding together in a marked police cruiser.[20] After the teams attend an incident, clients are connected to COAST for follow-up care.[19]

The Social Navigation Program is a partnership between the Police Service and the Hamilton Paramedic Service, and is responsible for providing street support to marginalized and homeless Hamiltonians.[21] The program connects clients with long-term care and services in partnership with a variety of social service providers in an effort to reduce the load on the judicial and hospital system.[17] Unlike COAST, however, the program connects with clients at the point of police contact, as opposed to at the client's request.

Emergency response

During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, a terrorist attack was carried out against eleven Israeli Olympic team and delegation members who were killed along with a German police officer. The attack became known as the Munich Massacre. This attack prompted police agencies around the world to examine their capabilities in addressing such an attack of terrorism. As a result of international incidents of hostage takings like the one in Munich, plus other firearms related incidents in Canada and abroad, Chief Gordon Torrance had been planning to form a special unit to deal with high risk situations. The 1976 Summer Olympics were to be held in Montreal, Quebec. From June 23 to July 3, 1976, Hamilton was to be the host of the Pre-Olympics Basketball Tournament. Thirteen countries would be represented at that tournament, including Israel. The Munich Massacre was still fresh on the minds of those planning security for this event.

In September 1975, the chief issued a policy and procedure to deal with armed and barricaded persons. On Monday, November 3, 1975, Paul Lariviere of Champlain St., Hamilton, exchanged gunfire with Hamilton Police from his residence. An officer who had a revolver eventually killed him. Lariviere was found to have two rifles in his apartment. This incident was a catalyst for the Hamilton Police Service to form a specialized unit. On November 8, 1975, a decision was made by Chief Torrance to form a tactical unit that would begin training in January 1976. The unit was to be based on the concept of the New York City Police Department SWAT. The unit was known as "TEAM" which stood for ‘tactical emergency assault men’.

The mandate of the TEAM was to attain a peaceful ending to police calls involving hostage-taking, gun and other weapon-related incidents. Five TEAM officers were initially sent to the Anti-Sniper and Survival School at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They also took on the responsibility of explosives disposal (EDU) and received this training through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The fifteen-man unit became operational on June 13, 1976. When the first female officer became a member of the unit, the name was changed to the emergency response unit (ERU). ERU members are trained to handle a variety of weapons, deal with dangerous, high-risk situations, and are utilized when entering a premises for the execution of search warrants.


A Hamilton Harbour Police shoulder flash worn by officers assigned to the shore patrol, a precursor of the Marine Unit.

The Marine Unit was established in 1921 as the Hamilton Harbour Police, an unarmed special constabulary maintained by the Hamilton Harbour Commission.[4] The Harbour Police were responsible for marine safety across the Hamilton Harbour and for security policing on Commission-owned properties, a responsibility it maintained until 1986, when the constabulary was disbanded, with the security division privatized and the harbour policing division amalgamated into the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police.[4]

In 1996, the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police entered into an agreement with the neighbouring Halton Regional Police Service to share a marine unit. This agreement was terminated in 2008, and the Halton Regional Police moved its marine unit to the Bronte Harbour.

Today, the Unit is responsible for patrolling the Hamilton Harbour, the entirety of the City's waterfront, and all inland waterways.[22] The Unit actively patrols from mid-April until mid-November. In the off-season, it responds to calls for service on an as-requested basis.

In 2011, the Unit, with assistance from the Halton Regional Police, rescued a group of high-school rowers caught in a freak storm.[23] Five Hamilton Police officers received the Rescue of the Year award from the Canadian Safe Boating Council for their work.[24]

Mounted patrol

Members of the Hamilton Police Mounted Unit speak with a cyclist in a downtown park.

The mounted patrol unit (MPU) was formed in September 2009 and consists of five horses and six officers. The priorities of the MPU are to heighten the service’s ability to accomplish:

MPU offers coverage throughout the city of Hamilton with rotating day, afternoon and night shifts.



A Hamilton Police cruiser.

Police cars, also known as police cruisers are the most common vehicle used by the Hamilton Police Service. The vehicles are numbered in regards to their division and car number. For example, 710-1 represents that the vehicle is from division 1 (central), and the preceding 710 is the vehicle designation number. Vehicles assigned to uniformed patrol begin with a 7 for a car and a 6 for a sport utility vehicle. Specialty units such as ERU and canine begin with a 9.

Motor vehicles

Make/model Type Status Origin
Ford police interceptor (marked) General patrol vehicle, traffic enforcement  Canada
Ford Taurus (marked) General patrol vehicle, traffic enforcement  United States
Ford Explorer (marked) General patrol vehicle  United States
Dodge Charger (LX) (marked) General patrol vehicle, traffic enforcement  Canada
Harley-Davidson FLHTP Police motorcycle  United States

Support vehicles

Make/model Type Status Origin
Dodge Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van—collision reconstruction, forensics  Germany
Ford ambulance Former City of Hamilton EMS converted to forensics lab  United States
GMC Savanna Van—emergency response unit  United States
Chevrolet Express van Van-emergency response unit  United States
Ford Explorer (un-marked) Canine unit  United States
Ford Expedition (un-marked) Canine unit retired  United States
Chevrolet Silverado SUV—marine unit  United States
Ford F350 pickup truck with horses trailer — mounted mnit  United States
Terradyne Armored Vehicles Inc./Gurkha MPV — using F-550 chassis Tactical armoured vehicle—emergency response unit  Canada
Ford F-series or GMC Vandura trucks Prisoner transportation services court wagons  Canada
Ford van van RIDE  United States

Marine unit vessels

Unit No. Make/model Type Status Origin
Marine II Zodiac Pro 870 28' rigid-hulled inflatable boat patrol and rescue vessel.  United States
Marine III Bombard Commando C4 14' rigid-hulled inflatable boat with 30 hp mercury outboard  France
Argo ARGO (ATV manufacturer) All-terrain amphibious vehicle  Canada
ROV VideoRay UROVs Pro 3 Remotely operated underwater vehicle  United States


Make/model Type Status Origin
Bell JetRanger Helicopter 1999 pilot project shared with Halton Regional Police Service & Peel Regional Police.  Canada


Make/model Type Origin
Norco Bicycles mountain bike RETIRED  Canada
Specialized Bicycle Components mountain bike RETIRED  United States
Cannondale Bicycle Corporation mountain bike RETIRED  United States
Kona Bicycle Company mountain bike RETIRED  Canada
Stevenson Bicycle Company mountain bike RETIRED  Canada
Scotts Bicycle Company mountain bike (2017 to present)  Canada


In the 1990s, the majority of law enforcement agencies of Canada began wearing bulletproof vests and municipal police agencies started carrying semi-automatic handguns in the 9mm or .40 S&W calibre cartridge. The Hamilton Police carry Glock 22 handguns with hollow-point .40 S&W calibre ammunition.

These firearms replaced the aging .38 Special revolver. A police cruiser might carry a Remington Model 870 shotgun capable of firing a variety of shotgun shells. In 2018 patrol officers began carrying carbine rifles.

Other less-lethal weapons carried include conducted electroshock weapons, pepper spray, and expandable batons. In addition, the personal equipment of police officers typically includes: handcuffs, flashlights, portable radios, notebooks, and a pair of disposable gloves and Kevlar gloves.

The emergency response unit (ERU) members are issued Glock handguns with 9 mm calibre ammunition. They also use a variety of less-lethal weapons such as flexible baton rounds. Other weapons that have been used by ERU include:

See also


  1. ^ "About HPS". Hamilton Police Service. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  2. ^ "Hamilton police want $12M more than last year's $183M budget". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e "HPS History". Hamilton Police Service.
  4. ^ a b c d "Cops on the Water: The Rise and Fall of the Hamilton Harbour Police". Bruce Forsyth.
  5. ^ Wells, Jon (October 20, 2012). "Lincoln Alexander dies at 90". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  6. ^ General, The Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "Hamilton Police Service [Civil Institution]". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  7. ^ a b c "Police Services Board". Hamilton Police Service.
  8. ^ "About Us". McMaster University Security Services.
  9. ^ "The rise and fall of the Hamilton Parks Police". Bruce Forsyth.
  10. ^ "Police Services Act O. Reg. 268/10, s. 8". 24 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Patrol Divisions". Hamilton Police Service.
  12. ^ a b "What is the future of Hamilton Police's ACTION team?". CBC News.
  13. ^ a b "5 Hamilton police officers charged in fake ticket scandal". CBC News.
  14. ^ "ACTION". Hamilton Police Service.
  15. ^ "Carding and 'cleaning up' the core: Hamilton's ACTION team". CBC News.
  16. ^ "New Ontario rule banning carding by police takes effect". CBC News.
  17. ^ a b "Community Mobilization Division". Hamilton Police Service.
  18. ^ "COAST Services". Crisis Outreach and Support Team.
  19. ^ a b "Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team". St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
  20. ^ "Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT)". Crisis Outreach and Support Team.
  21. ^ "Stories from the front line of Hamilton's social navigator program". Hamilton Spectator.
  22. ^ "Marine Unit". Hamilton Police Service.
  23. ^ "Police officers honoured for bravery in harbour rescue". Hamilton Spectator.
  24. ^ "Past Winners". Canadian Safe Boating Council.