BY Anaya Vance
After serving for 30 years, Fairfield Chief of Police Gary MacNamara will be retiring from his current position. MacNamara will be joining Sacred Heart to become the new Executive Director of Public Safety and Governmental Affairs.
“It is a privilege to welcome retired Chief of Police Gary MacNamara to the Department of Public Safety, and to our SHU family. Chief MacNamara is one of the most highly respected law enforcement professionals in Connecticut and it is truly an honor that he has chosen to bring his knowledge, experience, and leadership to this department. I look forward to working with Chief MacNamara as we continue to further our mission of ensuring a safe and secure environment for all of our community members,” said Jack Fernandez, Director of Public Safety.
Over the last several years MacNamara has been working closely with SHU, so when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped to accept the offer. “The energy is infectious, and this University is clearly a great place to be”, said MacNamara.
MacNamara, 52, is originally from Montreal, Canada while his father was stationed there as a U.S. Customs Agent. He later moved to Shelton at age 2, where he spent the rest of his life growing up. With his father’s background being in law enforcement, it peaked his interest at a young age.
“It was probably the influence of my parents that got me interested in public safety. While in high hchool I volunteered for an ambulance corp. as an EMT. I went to SCSU first and then transferred to University of New Haven where I majored in Criminal Justice. I graduated and started shortly after at the Fairfield Police Department,” said MacNamara.
As his career went on MacNamara had the opportunity to serve as a Detective, Detective Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and Deputy Chief for 8 years. MacNamara has also overseen the Emergency Response Team, Hostage Negotiators, Training Unit, Internal Affairs, Accreditation and Public Information.
“Everyone I met along my career helped shape who I am. I ended up holding several different positions in the organization. When I was appointed chief, it helped because I had a different understanding of the different functions in the department,” said MacNamara.
While being on the force, MacNamara said that he gained valuable life lessons, such as leadership skills, hard work through success, what to do in the extent of a crisis, and how to think globally but act locally.
One of MacNamara’s most recognized moments on the force was the 2002 hostage situation at Fairfield University. A professor and 27 students were held hostage and MacNamara was the negotiator; and after an eight-hour long conversation, everyone, including the suspect, were released unharmed.
Aside from his experience with law enforcement, MacNamara is a man of other talents too. He owns his own monthly column in the Justice Journal, does stand up in NYC, and is also an adjunct professor at Post University, where he teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice and several other courses.
As far an any immediate changes, MacNamara is not looking to make any to the University. Rather, he is looking to learn, talk to staff and students, and work one-on-one with administration to continue to make Sacred Heart a safe place for all.
“I’m glad Sacred Heart found someone like Mr. MacNamara with his credentials, but I hope someone with his experience doesn’t try to change the dynamic of how things are already run,” said Darwin Anderson, senior Criminal Justice major.