No matter the assignment, Capt. Chuck O’Connor was always one of the Anaheim Police Department’s most valuable players.
As a young detective, his undercover work led to 105 arrests and the demise of one of the region’s biggest property theft rings. Even last week, during his final shift before retiring, O’Connor surveyed Angels Stadium to ensure nothing went wrong as the world watched.
He served as the police department’s tactical commander for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.
It was just another successful mission in a 30-year career filled with accomplishments.
“It’s one of the greatest jobs in the world,” O’Connor says of police work. “You get the opportunity to do so many different and interesting things.”
But most of all, O’Connor, 51, says he relished the relationships.
At his retirement ceremony, Lt. Brian McElhaney called him as “the heart of the department.”
“In the end, people care most about how you treat them,” O’Connor says.
But don’t misunderstand. He loved the action.
Riding a motorcycle. Flying on the skid of a helicopter. Repelling down the side of buildings. Those are among the many highlights.
He recalls how police officials once envisioned a full-time SWAT team.
If that had happened, “I’d probably have spent my career working there,” he says.
It’s probably a good thing it didn’t.
O’Connor eventually rose to the rank of captain, mentored dozens of officers and led a countywide effort to harden potential targets of terrorism.
Among his post-retirement plans: getting private investigators license and working with companies that specialize in homeland security and promotional preparation training. He also plans to travel and spend more time with his wife, Loretta, and daughters, Alexandria, 15, and Olivia, 8.
He joked with retiring Lt. Chris Sayers, who plans to work for Disney, about his “other” retirement plan at last week’s ceremony.
“While Sayers has a Mickey Mouse job, I plan to handle Drew Carey’s game show hosting duties when he’s on vacation,” O’Connor joked.
Although he is the third captain to retire in seven months, O’Connor says the future is bright for APD.
“There were nine people who applied to replace me,” he says. “The Chief said all nine could do the job.”
While institutional knowledge is important, he says, “Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh set of eyes.”