A crowd gathered at the Gainesville Civic Center Thursday afternoon to say good-bye to Gainesville Police Chief Carl Dunlap.

Dunlap, who spent 27 years with the department, is retiring to take a job as a special investigator with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Dunlap said he is not leaving Gainesville and still plans on being a part of the community.

“I’m very happy to continue my work in law enforcement at a different level,” he said in an interview in late July. “I’m switching gears.”

Gainesville officials as well as two Dallas Drug Enforcement Agency agents and two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents presented Dunlap with gifts and shared some of their memories of working with him.

Gainesville Mayor Glenn Loch called Dunlap a “mainstay and almost an institution here.”

He pointed out some of the improvements to the police department which he traces back to Dunlap. They include the accreditation of the department, the addition of new police vehicles, improved body armor and weapons for officers.

“He’s really going to be missed,” Loch said. “The community thinks the world of him.”

Loch presented Dunlap with a badge on a plaque. The plague is inscribed with Dunlap’s start date — Oct. 16, 1980 — and his effective retirement date — Aug. 31, 2007.

Dunlap’s badge and badge number have also been retired, an official with the department said.

Sarah Somers, Criminal Justice and Emergency Planning Coordinator for Texoma Council of Governments, recalled how she came to Gainesville and met Dunlap several years ago.

She said Dunlap’s experience and dedication to safety for families will be an asset to Child Protective Services.

“One of the hardest jobs on earth is trying to protect children and families...We’re so grateful all these years of experience are going to protect families,” she said.

Especially touching were tributes to Dunlap from some of his staff and officers.

His administrative assistant Susan Case — a longtime Gainesville Police Department employee who has served in many different positions at the department — gave Dunlap a memory book containing comments and messages from police department personnel.

She referred to it as “a notebook filled with love, laughter, respect and gratitude.”

Case was already a Gainesville Police Department employee when Dunlap came to work as assistant chief in 1980.

“I will never forget the larger-than-life former football player who walked through the door that day,” Case said of the first time she met Dunlap. “It’s hard for me to remember a day at the police department when he was not there.”

She said Dunlap was “boss, friend, counselor, teacher and even disciplinarian” to his staff members.

Cpt. Steven Fleming and Cpt. Mark Brazelton of Gainesville Police Department presented Dunlap with a gas grill as a parting gift from the department.

When he spoke to the group, Dunlap and many others in the room, were emotional.

“I don’t think anybody starts a career with the end in mind,” he said.

Dunlap gave credit for his accomplishments to his officers and staff.

“I was just the director ... All the work was done by the employees.”

For Dunlap, the decision to retire was, apparently, not an easy one.

“I questioned it,” he said, “and I made up my mind.”

Dunlap said he is confident that he is leaving the department in good hands.

“These people know what they are doing. I know they will do it and do it correctly,” he said.

Dunlap’s final statement as the retiring department chief was about organ donation.

The former chief was the recipient of a donor liver in 2003 and he often speaks about his experience.

An advocate of organ donation, Dunlap reminded those who attended the reception about the importance of organ donation.

“Texas now has an online organ donor registry,” Dunlap noted.

Cpt. Steve Fleming has been chosen to serve as interim police chief while the department searches for a replacement for Dunlap.

Reporter Delania Trigg may be

contacted at dtrigg@ntin.net

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