New Fullerton PIO has street cred and book smarts


Early in her 20-year career, Sgt. Kathryn “Katie” Hamel had a reputation for her fearless approach to law enforcement.

When she was a patrol officer with her previous agency, Glendale PD, Hamel was the first on the scene of a triple homicide. She raced toward the dangerous suspect, who ultimately survived a self-inflicted wound. He was locked away for the notorious crime in May 2002.

A couple of years later, Hamel was awarded a Medal of Merit for performance under duress for taking down a dangerous parolee from Pelican Bay state prison with non-lethal rounds after he aimed a weapon at Hamel and her partner during a foot chase.

“I’m more of a nice day at the Fullerton Arboretum these days,”said Hamel, who took over public-information officer duties this week from Sgt. Jeff Stuart, who has moved back to patrol.

Sitting in her new office that she moved into July 21, Hamel, who is married to Irvine Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Hamel, and stepmother of two girls, is the new public face of the Fullerton PD. She hopes to build upon the presence of the agency on social media and publicize stories of the men and women of the Fullerton PD.

“I’m trying to learn from others who preceded me and make this my own (position),”Hamel said. “There are a lot of outstanding people here doing amazing police work, and I want the community to know about all of it.”

Hamel motions in her office.

“One of these walls could use a nice accent color, don’t you think?”says Hamel, wearing a stylish dark suit and looking nothing like a hardened street cop –a cop whose favorite detail was serving on the Family Crimes Unit of the Fullerton PD, which she joined in 2004.

“I put some very bad people in prison for a very long time who did very bad things to some of the most vulnerable members of society,”said Hamel, who grew up in the Amerige Heights neighborhood of Fullerton.

With her brawn comes brains.

Hamel earned a master of criminal justice degree from Chapman University in 2008 and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation in criminal justice and leadership from Capella University. She also is a faculty member at the University of Phoenix , the Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center and the North Orange County Community College District.

Hamel is preparing to get acquainted with the media.

“One of our biggest goals continues to be finding new ways to partner with the community and to find new ways to enhance our community,” said Police Chief Dan Hughes. “Sgt. Hamel is thoughtful, strategic and passionate about police work and Fullerton. She’s an outstanding fit for an important job.”

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