Police Promotion

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John Van Etten is officially the new chief of the Panama City Police Department, and this is a job he says he's prepared for his entire career.

"I have been SWAT Team commander, detective, intelligence unit, sergeant, lieutenant, commander, I've been the assistant chief for the last five years now."

City manager Ken Hammons selected Van Etten after a search that started more than five months ago. He says he was a bit concerned at first because Van Etten was just so nice.

"Well, I think there was a question because John is a nice guy. The question that was foremost early on, is he tough enough? As a chief you have to make some tough decisions, that's just part of the process. John is, in fact, tough enough to do the job."

Van Etten agrees, saying it's ok to be the nice guy as long as you get the job done.

"You know, you get a lot further in life, you know. People want to be around pleasant people, let's face it."

Van Etten says changes will be coming to the Police Department. He wants to expand community policing and better relationships between officers and the people, but the best change for now is just knowing the wait is over and the job is just beginning.

Van Etten is replacing David Slusser who retired in July. Slusser says Van Etten is the right man for the job and he knows he'll be a great leader for the department.