Newly sworn in Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh salutes Deputy Chief Scott Woods during a Change of Command Ceremony.

Lethbridge's new police chief was officially sworn into his role Monday at the Nikko Yuko Japanese Garden.

Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said this has been dream job for years and having the police flag passed to him comes with a lot of responsibilities.

"It’s a moment of taking a huge accountability," he said.  

Mehdizadeh says rather than come in and make changes arbitrarily, he says he prefers to look at what’s already being done and see how it can be done even better.

“I just want to make sure that we are more efficient, we are more productive, and as we go on we are continuing to progress and be relevant to the policing board of 2020," he said.

Mehdizadeh has more than 30 years of policing experience, both working across the nation, from Vancouver to Halifax, and internationally in places like Europe, Mexico and the U.S.

He is known for building strong ties with the communities.

“I really want to encourage all employees to start looking at where we can find efficiencies,” he said.

"Where we can find opportunities to serve the community better and that also reflects on a lot of discussions with the community as to what their wishes are.”

He said he wants citizens to be a key partner in programs and initiatives to enhance public safety and celebrating diversity.

Blackfoot elders also conducted a blanket ceremony, adopting Mehdizadeh into the Blackfoot community. He was given the Blackfoot name Wolf Butte. 

Mehdizadeh said one of the goals moving forward is to celebrate diversity.

“Because it’s a politically correct thing to do, people tend to tolerate diversity," he said, "But I want to hopefully bring an environment of celebration of that and using each other’s strengths to build this community.

"And again there are a lot of great people in this community who can really help on that front."

The ceremony was also about giving recognition to deputy Chief Scott Woods for taking on the role of interim chief for the last 11 months after former chief Rob Davis left for a different position in July of 2019.

Woods remarked at his time as the interim chief as a busy and somewhat challenging year with some high-profile cases.

“I was just joking earlier but I said I think the only person that’s happier than the chief starting is me,” he said.

MehdizadehiIs the 19th police chief in Lethbridge and it was also the first time a Change of Command Ceremony has been held in the city.