Fairfield police chief to retire, take job at Sacred Heart

Police Chief Gary MacNamara has announced he will retire after more than 30 years with the department. Fairfielld,CT. 9/17/18

Police Chief Gary MacNamara has announced he will retire after more than 30 years with the department. Fairfielld,CT. 9/17/18

Contributed / File photo

FAIRFIELD — After a little more than 30 years on the job, Police Chief Gary MacNamara will be retiring, and heading across town to Sacred Heart University.

At the college, MacNamara will become the executive director of public safety and governmental affairs. The details of his retirement are still being worked out, though but he expects his last day to come by the middle or end of October.

“I have an opportunity to do something different,” MacNamara said, “and I want to explore that.”

“I loved working for the town,” MacNamara, 52, said. “I loved working for the department and with the men and women of this department.”

Police Commission Chairman Susan Barrett was scheduled to meet with the first selectman Thursday to review charter requirement regarding the replacement of the chief and other command staff positions. According to the charter, the commission votes on a new chief and sends the recommendation to the first selectman for approval.

James Millington, a member of the Police Commission and a police officer in Shelton, has known MacNamara for 30 years.

“When I was 14 years old, I joined the Fairfield Police Explorers,” Millington said. “Back then the chief was a new officer and advisor to the program.”

He said he watched MacNamara rise through the ranks.

“He is someone who has a great love of our community and is highly respected throughout the law enforcement community,” Millington said. Now that he’s on the Police Commission, Millington said has “had the honor to see the chief in action in good times and bad.”

He recalled an evening that was being spent conducting interviews for new hires when MacNamara got a message that several police officers may have been shot in the New Haven area.

“He immediately got up, reached out to the department in question, and sent officers to the hospital to check on the injured officers,” Millington said. “His quick response and level of concern speaks volumes to his character and his strong commitment to the law enforcement community at large.”

MacNamara, who holds a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement science and a master’s in public administration, both from the University of New Haven, has become a vocal supporter of victims of domestic violence, and each spring, dons red high heels to “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

News of his retirement spread on social media, bringing tweets of congratulations, along with a welcome from former Superintendent of Schools David Title, who now also works at SHU.

The chief started his career in Fairfield as a patrol officer in 1988 and served as a field training officer, working his way up through the ranks During his time in Detective Bureau, MacNamara was instrumental in uncovering a prostitution and money laundering ring tied to the murder of a local man.

It was also MacNamara who negotiated the release of students and a professor being held hostage on the Fairfield University campus by a man who said he had an explosive device.

In 2004, MacNamara graduated from the FBI National Academy, and in 2006, was named the department’s eighth chief.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-132, has worked closely with MacNamara on public safety.

“Gary has been an invaluable resource, partner and friend as a state representative, from offering advice and insight on legislative proposals involving public safety, law enforcement and animal welfare to working with me to implement the "Heat Kills" program in town,” she said. “I’m so incredibly grateful to have had the privilege to work with such an amazing leader in our community.”

The next step MacNamara said is to make sure there is a smooth transition in the department’s leadership.

The current deputy chief is Chris Lyddy, and while MacNamara served in that position before being named to lead the department, there is no guarantee that the job will be Lyddy’s.

MacNamara makes $157,527 a year.

The next police chief will be selected by the members of the Police Commission, with the approval of the first selectman.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-842-2585