Message From the Chief

Public Safety Chief Warren HensmanNobility in Public Safety is achieved when our actions are centered on service, justice and fundamental fairness; never forgetting that our actions can have an instant impact on others for a lifetime, and even a community for generations.  I am honored to serve as the Public Safety Chief, proud of our public safety team, and take the responsibility of keeping Grants Pass safe with earnest intent. Our team philosophy, coupled with the progressive and professional manner in which we deal with community challenges, will assure Grants Pass continues to be a safe and prosperous community for many years to come.     

Background and Education 

I grew up in Dublin Ireland and graduated from O’Connell Secondary School in 1989.  I later earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of Southern Nevada, a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Nevada State College, and a Master’s Degree in Justice Management from the University of Nevada Reno.  I am a graduate of the Oregon Executive Leadership Institute, the Police Executive Research Forums (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police and hold an Executive Certification with the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.  

My professional career began in 1990 when I enlisted in the United States Air Force.  After eight years of military service I began my policing career, spending the last 20 years serving three police agencies and in a variety of roles: The Alpharetta Police Department (Atlanta Georgia Suburb), the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Ashland Police Department.   

On February 10, 2019, I was appointed as the Public Safety Chief and remain honored to serve the people of Grants Pass.                    

Our first responders are exceptional people with excellent skills. We all take it personally when someone is victimized in our community and are passionate about making those responsible accountable for their crimes. Our police officers, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, and all of our support staff are committed to service. Additionally, we are vested in our community and work very closely with community groups, neighborhoods, schools, and other parts of our community to solve a multitude of issues from criminal activity to livability issues, and fire safety with programs such as Firewise. 

This allows the community to have ownership in its Public Safety Department and utilize a collaborative approach; sworn police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, along with support staff alone and without the support of their community cannot be as successful. A community who supports their Department through volunteerism, Neighborhood Watch, and a willingness to report suspicious activity or hazards when they occur are critical. Our city is growing daily, but I believe we will continue to make and keep our community safe through our strong partnerships and proactive policing. 

The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety is a unique organization. As Chief, I oversee Police, 911 Communications, and Fire/Rescue.  Along with Deputy Chiefs, Lieutenant's, Battalion Chiefs and Sergeants, we focus our efforts toward emergency management, always striving to be a best practice organization. Our collaborative approach enables a core group of emergency managers who are capable of filling a variety of roles as part of the Incident Command System during any police, fire, or rescue emergency. 

Our professional police officers perform the duties normally associated with their positions such as patrol, investigations, drug enforcement, and community policing.  

Our professional firefighters perform traditional fire service functions like structural and wildland fire suppression, building inspections, hazardous materials response, medical and rescue calls, and public education. 

However, it is not uncommon for our police officers and firefighters to assist each other with non-traditional tasks. An engine company might process an entire vehicle accident scene, including driver information exchange when police officers are unavailable. Another example involves firefighters helping canvass neighborhoods to identify witnesses in major crime scene investigations. We have utilized firefighters who hold special photography skills to assist with crime scene photography. Our firefighters have utilized special tools to help crime scene investigators process evidence.  Other roles include help with traffic control, victim assistance, crime prevention/public education and outer perimeter support at tactical and crime scene situations. They assist us with technical support during police activities involving drug raids and search warrant service. 

Firefighter / paramedics are members of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Special Weapons and Tactic Team (SWAT). The SWAT team consists of police officers who voluntarily enhance their training to deal with violent, usually barricaded, armed suspects. Their special training and equipment allows them to safely contain and mitigate an incident along with help from another special team, the Critical Incident Negotiations Team (CINT). This group consists of employees who volunteer to provide hostage / crisis negotiations in criminal events. Negotiators are FBI trained, with the goal of reaching a peaceful resolution.