5 Questions for ... Gary MacNamara, Fairfield police chief stepping down
FAIRFIELD — At the age of 52, Police Chief Gary MacNamara is stepping down from the job.
But after working his way up through the ranks, MacNamara won’t be going far — just across town to Sacred Heart University, where he will become executive director of public safety and government relations, a newly-created position.
During his time with the department, MacNamara helped uncover a money laundering and prostitution ring that operated between Connecticut and Florida. He also served as the negotiator when students and a professor were taken hostage at Fairfield University. He is now known as the man in the red stilettos in the campaign against domestic violence.
His last official day will be Oct. 26, and it will end with a small march from police headquarters to the Fairfield Theatre Co. on Sanford Street for a retirement party. Rumor has it MacNamara, who has been known to take a turn at the microphone in New York City comedy clubs, will perform some of his stand-up routine.
But before he leaves, MacNamara, who was born in Canada when his father, a U.S. Customs agent was stationed there, answered a few questions about his time with the department. It was his father’s eventual transfer to Bridgeport that brought MacNamara to Connecticut, where he grew up in Shelton and attended Shelton High School.
Q: Why did you decide to become a police officer, what it something you always wanted to do?
A: I think growing up watching my father put on his uniform every day getting ready for work led to my desire to go into law enforcement. When I was much younger, I would sometimes go to work with him. He was so dedicated and loved his work, spending 50 years in government service.
Q: What brought you to Fairfield?
A: The Fairfield Police Department has always been well respected. While attending the University of New Haven, it was a department that was often referred to. In addition, several Fairfield officers were attending UNH while I was attending. When the test came up, I jumped at the opportunity. I did well and got hired. It was the only police test I ever took.
Q: What has been the most positive change in policing over the course of your career?
A: The most positive change is probably the addition of technology — from computers in our cars, email, realistic training simulations, cameras, accident scene documentation, better communications — have all led to a more effective and efficient agency. It allows us to do so much more, and also allows the community to be more engaged.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception the public has about police and police work?
A: I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the police, mostly because sometimes people don’t look beyond the uniform. They perceive all of us from what they see on TV, read on the internet, or through a interaction they may have had. They don’t get to know the people wearing the uniform. We are people who care. We are people who want to help. We are people, who besides being entrusted with the community safety, are dealing with the same concerns, worries and family challenges as everyone else. This is why it is important that we get to know the community we serve, but at the same time important for the community members to get to know us.
Q: What will your new job at Sacred Heart University entail?
A: As we all know, Sacred Heart University is a vibrant, growing institution. I plan on collaborating with members of public safety, the administration and the entire university community to continue to make it a safe place to learn. In some ways it will be very similar to the work I do here only on a smaller, but not less important, scale.