Cornwall’s new police chief sworn in

Cornwall Police Service Chief Shawna Spowart smiles at attendees at Ramada Cornwall on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 during a change of command ceremony. Spowart becomes the city's first female police chief. (CPS/YouTube via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall’s first female police chief is officially in the top position at the Cornwall Police Service.

The transition of power happened this afternoon (Friday) as Shawna Spowart was sworn in by Judge Gilles Renaud during a small ceremony at the Cornwall Ramada that was also streamed online.

The change of command ceremony also recognized retiring Chief Danny Aikman.

In her address, Spowart spoke about becoming chief being a “moment (that) doesn’t just happen. There’s a history of societal and cultural change.”

Spowart was forthright, telling the audience she never thought about the chief’s position.

She shared a story about a child at school who told her daughter recently that women couldn’t be police chiefs, noting that “unconscious bias still exists in the community.”

“It’s not lost on me,” Spowart said of being the city force’s first woman chief, noting that only a handful of women hold the highest position in an Ontario police force.

Speaking to outgoing chief Danny Aikman, Spowart said she never envisioned sharing a stage in an event like today. She praised Aikman for taking a chance on an “out-of-town kid” back in 1995.

In his speech, Aikman said Spowart had all the characteristics to be chief.

“She’s super smart, calm under pressure and a strategic thinker. She demands performance from her subordinates and can be tough. I know this because she’s been very tough on me for the last few years and she’s always kept me on my toes, which I truly appreciate,” Aikman said.

The ceremony also heard virtual prerecorded well wishes from MP Eric Duncan, MPP Jim McDonell, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne District Chief Vanessa Adams, Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant and Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Jeff McGuire.