FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Republican mayoral candidate and current Fort Wayne city councilman Tom Didier announced a major change he would make to the Fort Wayne Police Department if he’s elected as mayor next week.

At a Monday press conference, Didier said he would promote current Deputy Chief of Police Mitch McKinney and make him the new chief, replacing current chief Steve Reed.

Mayoral candidate Tom Didier poses with Deputy Chief of Police Mitch McKinney
Mayoral candidate Tom Didier poses with Deputy Chief of Police Mitch McKinney

McKinney is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Wayne Lodge 14. He also ran as a Republican for Allen County Sheriff in 2022, but lost to current Sheriff Troy Hershberger in the May primary.

Reed has been the Fort Wayne chief since 2016.

McKinney said at the conference that his policing philosophy is, “Facts matter and people matter.”

McKinney said he would emphasize the wellness of patrol officers through a peer support system that’s already in place which in turn allows officers to serve the community well.

“His personification of who he is as a person is very much as you can tell, electric,” Didier said, explaining he would appoint McKinney because he has known him for a lifetime and he trusts him.

“I want people to understand, this is the number one priority in Fort Wayne: public safety,” Didier said, commending McKinney’s efforts with community-oriented policing on the city’s southeast side and saying he wants to see it implemented all over the city.

“That way we’re teaching the officers what we expect of them in regards to the public and what their needs are, and Mitch is going to make that happen,” Didier said.

“I applaud our Chief Reed for the opportunities he’s given me,” McKinney said. “He’s put me in the position to say ‘Hey, you are the future of this police department.'”

WANE 15 has requested a response from Reed through FWPD’s public information officer and was told there would be no comment at this time.

Mayor Tom Henry sent a statement reacting to the news:

“Public safety is a top priority. Violent crime and homicides continue to be down in our community with a clearance rate of nearly 85%, and we’re using innovative techniques to keep the citizens of Fort Wayne safe. Strong leadership in a police department is vital, but make no mistake, Fort Wayne is one of the safest midsize cities in the country because of the men and women who swore to protect and serve this community. My opponent took time today to announce a change in police leadership and that is certainly his prerogative should he win. But we take this opportunity to thank all members of the Fort Wayne Police Department as well as their families for their daily courage and sacrifice.”