“How can I best relate to this new generation of cops? How I can I be that lieutenant – that 20 years from now – everybody still remembers and is talking about?” he asked. “You’ve got to care about your team, and put their needs before your own.”
But last week, as he prepared for his first briefing since being promoted, McElhaney had more pressing concerns – like getting his gun belt on and pinning new bars on his uniform.
It has been awhile since he worked patrol.
“I am totally excited about this new challenge,” says McElhaney, who spent the past six years as a plain-clothed sergeant in the vice and homeland security details.
The Orange County native, 41, said he’s enjoyed every assignment of his already distinguished 20-year career at Anaheim PD.
He’s arrested child predators, contributed in hardening potential terrorist targets and even performed CPR on a gunshot victim, saving his life. He earned a lifesaving medal – and was twice APD’s Special Operations Investigator of the Year.
But the biggest highlight, he says, has been the friendships he’s developed working alongside “some of the best police officers in the business.”
Among the lessons he hopes to pass along from his experience on the Special Weapons and Tactics team: “In law enforcement – like in life in general – if everybody looks out for one another then everybody goes home,” he said.
At a recent promotion ceremony, he thanked at least a dozen current and former colleagues by name.
“I’m promoting today off of your good work,” he said. “You guys have always had my back – and I appreciate you.”