Talking with Jan Wright

Former Police Chief touts yoga; pans decision for civilian director in his place

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  • Jan Wright recently retired as Chief of Police in Hamburg.

  • Jan Wright in a yoga position

HAMBURG — Jan. 31, 2011 marked the final day of service for one of the area's most well-known police officers, Hamburg’s Chief of Police Jan Wright. Rising through the ranks over a 25-year career in local law enforcement, Wright has seen and done pretty much everything a police officer can see and do — from making drug busts and keeping his town’s streets safe to working on a missing child case that landed him in Texas to reunite a young girl with her family.

Beginning his career in Hardyston in 1986, Wright transferred to Hamburg in 1993. He became Officer in Charge in 2006 and was ultimately promoted to Chief in 2008. Now, he looks forward to spending time biking and camping with his family and says he is “very grateful to the residents of Hamburg for letting finish a 25-year career.”

Changes afoot in town
Wright’s last month on the force and the weeks since then have even seen some heated debate over the Hamburg Borough Council’s decision to replace his position with that of Civilian Police Director, a decision which Wright believes is wrong: “Director is an extremely limited position, they cannot do things an officer can.”

While Wright agrees that a civilian director can work in some cases — on large forces, in particular — the fact that Hamburg is down to six officers with his retirement makes it a bad decision on the part of the Borough Council, he says. Of the two explanations that Hamburg has given to justify their decision — that it is a cost effective move and that there are no officers currently on the force qualified to be promoted to Chief — Wright made it clear that he agrees with neither. It's a sentiment that is obviously shared by the residents of Hamburg, who Wright says have started a petition to have the ordinance repealed.

Varied post-police pursuits
Since his retirement, Wright has been involved with another passion: yoga. A practitioner of yoga for five years, Wright got certified to teach the discipline in November of 2011 and has since been teaching at Hardyston Middle School, Sussex County YMCA in Hardyston, Minerals Resort Spa in Vernon and at Garden of Life Yoga Center in Wantage. He has also taken up yoga as a cause, helping with the nonprofit organization Yoga Impact, whose goal is to bring yoga to underserved populations including women and children in shelters, youth, senior citizens, prisoners and the homeless.

In an effort to bring yoga to the attention of people who might not try it otherwise, Wright and Yoga Impact have teamed up with the Garden of Life Yoga Center to offer free classes on Sundays starting March 4 from 4 to 5 p.m.. These free classes are open to people of all skill levels and Wright encourages beginners to attend to get a taste of what has quickly become one of his favorite athletic activities: Yoga, he sayd, “is very mindful; you aren’t just going through the motions. It emphasizes the moment of now, not just the end result of the workout.”

Wright is also working with American Gold and Diamond Buyers in Hamburg and is available as a motivational speaker. Anyone interested in yoga, selling gold or hiring a speaker can contact Wright at

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