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Syracuse police chief: The exit interview

Gary Miguel never aspired to be Chief of Police. He was working the street and was studying very hard for the civil service test to make sergeant. Once he made sergeant of patrol he thought he had the greatest job in the world. But he kept moving up through the ranks. As Chief, however, he was surprised at the amount of public scrutiny he encountered from the people, the politicians, the media and groups with their own agendas. He just thought of himself as a cop, he reflects now. To be Chief he had to develop a thicker skin.

Both Miguel and Mayor Matt Driscoll will be leaving office at the end of this month. "I'm lucky to have worked with a mayor who is so supportive of the police effort and public safety," he says. "He allowed me to pick my deputy chiefs. We have worked as a team. When a decision has to be made, each deputy chief has a seat at the table, and we would sit, literally, for hours to make the best decision we could make."

Proud of his tenure, and the department he has led for almost five years, the view from his desk often includes the darkest sides of the city.

"You recognize what is occurring," he observes. "You feel badly that it's occurring. Then you have to say, from a police standpoint, what steps can we take to make it the best that we can. But the reality is that until you make substantial progress in the areas of poverty and the breakdown of the family, it's unfair to think that any police officer, any police department is going to be able to get a neighborhood back the way it was 20 years ago."

There has been talk of a national search to select the next Police Chief. What are the advantages and disadvantages to bringing someone in from the outside, as opposed to promoting someone already on the force?

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