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Hudson hires police chief

Jim Coan of Whitewater has been hired as the new chief of the Hudson Police Department.

The announcement came in a press release from the Hudson Police and Fire Commission last week.

Coan has been chief of the Whitewater Police Department for 14 years. Prior to that he was with the Appleton Police Department for 14 years and rose to the rank of captain during that time.

The Whitewater Police Department has 23 officers. Coan was among 100 officers with the Appleton Police Department. HPD has 21 full-time officers.

Coan has a bachelor's degree from Northern Michigan University and a master's degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. He replaces Chief Richard Trende, who retired in May.

In an interview Monday, Coan said, "I want the citizens of Hudson to know what an honor and privilege it is to serve as their chief of police. I promise to do everything I can to provide for their welfare and safety as well as that of our officers."

Coan said he will work to move the department progressively and professionally into the future. "And I am deeply grateful to the Police and Fire Commission, the mayor and the City Council for the confidence and trust they have placed in me."

Coan said that his first priority on the job will be to assess the strengths of the HPD and identify areas where there can be improvement. He plans on riding with his officers and spending time with them to hear their thoughts and concerns.

"There will be change, but they can rest assured that it will be evolutionary and only after a full assessment of the current situation. I want to hear from them about them before I make any changes," said Coan.

The Police and Fire Commission received approximately 25 applications for the position and conducted preliminary interviews of seven candidates earlier this month. According to the release, the commission offered the position to Coan based on his interview and test results. "The commission is confident that they have made the best selection for the position, given Mr. Coan's extensive police background and training and given his wide breadth of law enforcement experiences."

The commission spent 12 hours in this preliminary interview process, and all those interviewed possessed qualifications and expertise that would have been very beneficial to the city.

Tom O'Connell, who chairs the commission, said that in addition to Coan's experience and education, his commitment to good community relations made him the best choice for the job. "He believes in getting to know the people who live here and being involved in the community." O'Connell pointed to a program instigated by Coan called the Citizen Academy which is designed to provide selected members of the community with a hands-on look at the job of law enforcement with police officers as instructors.

Lt. Paul Larson, acting HPD chief, has spoken with Coan by phone and said he is impressed with his new boss' background, especially his time spent with the Appleton Police Department.

"That department has a reputation for being very progressive and professional, and he did very well there. That kind of background will be an asset for us," said Larson.

Both O'Connell and Larson said that while Whitewater and Hudson are similar in population size, the communities are quite different when it comes to location. "What makes Hudson different is the presence of the state's second busiest interstate highway corridor running right through it. That has a big impact on this community and the department along with our proximity to a major urban area," said Larson.

According to the release, Coan's salary will be $78,000 per year. He is expected to be on the job in Hudson in August. Coan and his wife, Kris, have one son, Michael, 16, who will attend Hudson High School this fall. The family will be in town later this week to begin looking for a home.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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