Myles Duggan was a New York City police officer in the late 1960s and ‘70s. Duggan rarely discussed his 13-year job with his son, Sean. But Sean watched how his father went about his work and was intrigued.
That intrigue turned to interest and later a criminal justice major. It set the younger Duggan on a path to become a police chief on the other side of the country.
After 27 years in multiple roles in the Scottsdale Police Department, Sean Duggan will take the reins as chief of the Chandler Police Department on Monday.
The position is not one Duggan envisioned for himself until recently, and certainly not when his father patrolled the streets of Harlem. But the seed Myles Duggan unwittingly planted decades ago grew.
“I knew early on that law enforcement was my career aspiration,” Sean Duggan said.
Duggan expected to eventually join the FBI or DEA — at that time he saw it not as a question of if, but rather which federal agency; he joined the Scottsdale police to get “street-level” experience and became “hooked.”
“I’ve loved being a police officer ever since,” Duggan said. “I was drawn to this job for the excitement and to help others, to put bad guys behind bars. I’ve been blessed to be able to do that.
“Was I a kid who wanted to be chief? No. It’s the greatest honor that can be bestowed on me professionally.”
Ready for the challenge
Duggan spent the last seven years as an assistant chief in Scottsdale.
“‘Chief’ sounds much nicer than ‘assistant chief,’” said Myles Duggan, who moved his family to Scottsdale in 1978.
Described as full of integrity, born to lead, grounded, private, but not too private, and ready for the challenge, Duggan, 49, replaces Sherry Kiyler, who retired in July after nine years as chief.
“He is someone who will do the right thing for the right reason ... and I think they will be very happy with him there in Chandler,” Scottsdale chief Alan Rodbell said. “He will quickly assimilate himself to the Chandler community.”
Duggan was selected as Chandler’s next top cop by City Manager Rich Dlugas in late November, from a group of six semifinalists and then two finalists — the other was Christopher Vicino, an assistant chief with the Riverside (Calif.) Police Department.
Duggan served many roles from when he joined Scottsdale police as an officer in 1986, to when he was named assistant chief in charge of the investigative services bureau in 2006. He supervised the city’s Youth/Gang Intervention Unit, served as a SWAT commander and a Special Investigations section commander. Duggan also worked for the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s gang and illegal immigration task force and was selected for the FBI’s Police Executive Fellowship Program.
“It was a natural progression. It’s a progressive path that I took,” Duggan said. “I think all those experiences helped create a foundation, whether it’s in budgets or leadership, and built relationships that will greatly assist me with Chandler PD.”
Dlugas stated as much in his announcement of Duggan as the city’s next police chief.
“Chief Duggan brings 27 years of progressive, responsible experience in all facets of police work,” Dlugas said. “His record shows a commitment to community engagement and employee empowerment and he truly impressed our management team during interviews.”
Duggan will join the department in the middle of the budget process — “I need to get up to speed right away,” he said — and must hire a new assistant chief to oversee the department’s professional services division. Duggan called it “an extremely important position” and one he feels very comfortable filling quickly in his tenure.
“The trajectory of my career has been guided by an emphasis on effective leadership, collaboration, strategic planning and sound financial management,” Duggan wrote in his application for chief. “My empowerment style of leadership has proven to be a successful formula in mentoring the next generation of leaders from within.
“I want to create a very strong leadership bench, a leadership pipeline,” Duggan said this week. “Everyone is a leader.”
The move to chief was the next professional step for Duggan. But to do so in Chandler, a city he labeled “pre-eminent,” was especially enticing.
“Chandler has grown greatly over the last decade and has developed a sustainability that, I think, is the envy of a lot of cities in the country,” he said. “Chandler PD has a reputation for being a highly-skilled and well-thought-of, professional department. I’ve seen it firsthand.”
Duggan and his wife, Mary, a professor at Arizona State, will move to Chandler, as required by the job. He has two grown children, a daughter who lives in New York, and a son who lives in Tempe.
Duggan, who will receive a $173,000 annual salary, has 18 months to move residences. But that didn’t keep the last month from becoming a whirlwind as he wound down in Scottsdale and ramped up to start in Chandler.
“I’ve been incrementally getting prepared for the first day,” Duggan said.
That included receiving his ID badge one day, an official photo shoot another day. He finally received his Chandler uniform and all the while tried to catch up and stay abreast of the department’s legal and personnel issues. Duggan attended a department-wide picnic with nearly 500 employees.
“I’m excited,” he said, “and ready to start on Monday.”
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