The following is a message from Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely on the recent passing of Bill Hackett, who served the community as a police officer for 44 years. He was 90 years old.
Born in 1930, William (Bill) Hackett had a long and unsurpassed history of service to the Kingston community. Bill joined the Kingston Police in 1951 and held several key senior positions, including 13 years as Deputy Chief, before being appointed Chief of Police in 1994. Bill distinguished himself as a tenacious investigator and a courageous officer willing to risk his life in an effort to protect the public from dangerous individuals. He took on several complex and disturbing investigations and was the lead investigator following the riot at the Kingston Penitentiary, a major incident that involved serious charges against 13 individuals. He retired with 44 years of service, the lengthiest service ever recorded by an officer with the Kingston Police.
In recognition of his service, a city park was named in his honour. In 1994, Bill received a Distinguished Service Award from Queen’s University for outstanding service to the university in his law enforcement role. He was also a recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal and third bar, in recognition of 40 years of loyal and exemplary service, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
However, Bill’s contributions to Kingston were not limited to long days of police work. Starting with the committee that raised money to build the Harold Harvey Arena in 1950, Bill served almost 30 years with the Church Athletic League, as a coach, convener, and director. In addition to playing on the Kingston police hockey team, he also spent 15 years as a coach and league organizer with the men’s recreational Miller Hockey League. He also contributed as a fundraiser and tournament volunteer with Kingston Minor Hockey Association and served as a director with the Kingston Skating Club, all of this earning him a spot in the Kingston District Sports Hall of Fame.
In retirement, Bill gave unceasingly of himself to community activities. He was nominated for the 2006 Citizen of the Year Award for his work with numerous charities and organizations, among them the Kids for Kids hockey tournament, the Penitentiary Museum, and the Boys and Girls Club.
Bill contributed to the Board of Managers at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Board of Directors of the local Youth Diversion Program, Operation Christmas Child, the Children’s Kingston Regional Cancer Centre, and the Salvation Army Ontario East Division Celebrity Day Campaign. For several years he raised funds for and personally delivered mobility equipment to assist local veterans.
Bill was truly the epitome of altruism. When we hosted the Ontario Special Olympics 2012 Provincial Spring Games, he was on the organizing committee. When several events were planned for 2016 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Kingston Police, Bill was also there, working tirelessly. Four of these events incorporated fundraising for local charitable organizations, including a significant donation to the Youth Diversion Program from the proceeds of the Kingston Police Gala. Those on the Gala Committee can attest that Bill was the main reason that the fundraising portion of this endeavour was so successful.
Bill’s commitment to the safety and security of Kingston did not end with his retirement from the Kingston Police: He served two terms on the Kingston Police Services Board, the first from July 2002 to July 2008 and the second from July 2011 to March 2019.
Bill once commented that the best advice he could give from his many years of police experience was to treat people the way that you would like to be treated, noting that he was still being stopped on the street by people whom he had helped years ago in some case or another. He is an example for all of us to follow.
Antje McNeely, Chief of Police, Kingston Police