Dunagan retires today from Biloxi Police Department

Police Chief Bruce Dunagan retires today, after a 37-year career in which he worked his way up through the ranks and helped the Biloxi Police Department emerge as the leading law enforcement agency in South Mississippi.

Mayor A.J. Holloway, who is expected to name an acting chief today as he launches a search for a new chief, praised Dunagan during a chamber breakfast Monday morning and during the afternoon City Council meeting read a proclamation declaring today as Bruce Dunagan Day.

“Bruce served the city of Biloxi and its citizens with distinction and dignity, and the city will forever be indebted to him for his service,” Holloway said during the council meeting.

Dunagan was named director of the Biloxi Police Department in 2001, and his appointment capped a career that began in 1972 and saw him attain the positions of corporal, inspector, and assistant chief before being named chief.

As a detective in 1978, Dunagan convinced city leaders to allow the department to create a dive-rescue team, which today is a integral part of the Biloxi Police Department.

“During his tenure as chief,” Holloway said, “Bruce oversaw an era when the Biloxi Police Department emerged as the leading law-enforcement agency in South Mississippi, with the department frequently being called on by neighboring agencies for its expertise in accident reconstruction, disarming explosive devices, and crime-scene processing.”

Holloway also lauded Dunagan for his service in times of crisis, including the preparation and recovery from numerous hurricanes and tropical storms, including Hurricane Katrina, “when under Bruce’s leadership the department demonstrated an unwavering dedication to public safety and public service.”

Dunagan was a decorated combat veteran for his service in Vietnam, where he was a member of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” and he later joined the 82nd Airborne Division while serving stateside.

Holloway said he recognized Dunagan’s ability shortly after he became mayor 16 years ago.

“I remember I was at a meeting somewhere and they notified me of a hostage situation where a man had a gun,” Holloway told the chamber audience. “A little while after that, they called to tell me that everything had been taken care of, with no injuries. Bruce Dunagan had tackled the man. I knew right then that he was going to be my kind of man.”

Online photos

— To see photos from the “Breakfast with the Mayor” gathering Tuesday morning, click here.

To see photos from the City Council meeting Tuesday, when Bruce Dunagan was honored by Mayor A.J. Holloway, click here.