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Master's program laid a foundation for Chief Fuchs

It was serendipitous for Doug Fuchs when Western started its master’s program in law enforcement in 1997 just as it was fortuitous that the law enforcement “bug” bit him while he was at Brandeis University as an undergraduate. He worked while in college as an auxiliary policeman in Wayland, Mass., then as an officer for two years in the tough neighborhood projects in Dorchester, Mass., after graduation. A harrowing incident there gave him pause, and he applied for an opening in Ridgefield, Conn., where he was promoted to sergeant in four years, and lieutenant six months later. That’s when he knew he wanted to be in police administration.

Fuchs started on a part-time basis in the spring of 1998 at Western as a member of its first Master of Science in Justice and Law Administration program while he worked in Ridgefield. “My colleagues and I who started in the first year knew this program was going to open doors for us. It is real-world oriented; the professors come from forensics, law, and police forces, and they are great resources even after graduation. Chuck Mullaney wrote the script for the program, and I consider him a mentor.”

Charles Mullaney, chair of the Justice & Law Administration Division, offers a glowing report.

“He was as prepared a student as I’ve taught in 25 years,” Mullaney says. “His class contributions were an indication of his exemplary leadership abilities and in a word he was simply a joy and a gem in the classroom. Quite frankly, I wanted Doug as an adjunct ASAP, and when I became chair, I found a slot for him, and my faculty and his students could not be more pleased.”

Another huge influence was Dr. Eugene Buccini, professor of management, who taught Fuchs a course in negotiation.

“He taught us how to get where we wanted to go,” Fuchs says. “I think about how he structured the class and how important the art of negotiation is every day. The final project for the class was to negotiate your grade. I happily negotiated an ‘A.’”

Negotiation is key to Fuchs’ job in Redding as he manages police officers, which presents a unique challenge.

“Police officers must be in control of every situation,” Fuchs says. “This behavior is a part of their personalities and training. I must get them vested in the process, whether it’s day-to-day work or crisis management.”

Fuchs was hired as Redding’s first police chief, and says it is a great place to run a department. Before he took over, the town had a resident state trooper, three corporals, and nine officers. Today, the force numbers 33, including 16 officers, six dispatchers, one animal control officer, and 10 auxiliary officers.

“I used a lot of tools I learned at Western to establish this department,” Fuchs says. “We were woefully undersized and lacking resources. Since I’ve been here we’ve obtained federal grants for revamping our radio dispatch system and truly professionalized the department.”

Last year Fuchs employed a Western intern, Carmen Flores ‘12, who was interested in computer forensics. She obtained real-world experience by computerizing training files, participated in ride-alongs, and spent time in dispatch. Fuchs’s advice to students at Western, where he continues to teach as an adjunct, is to finish their four-year degrees now. “You are going into a field where the vast majority doesn’t have a four-year degree. It will open doors. Putting off getting your degree won’t allow you to focus completely on your studies when you work at the same time.”

In June, Fuchs was elected president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, a one-year position. It has opened doors and conversations for him with many state dignitaries as well as reinforced relationships with fellow chiefs across the state.

“I’ve got history with these folks because we graduated from the same master’s program at Western,” Fuchs says. “We cooperate and do things that would never cross a town line years ago.”

As part of his CPCA responsibilities, Fuchs recently made some public service announcements on back-to-school safety and the importance of designated drivers. He speaks at press conferences, and is a part of a strong lobby that protects the interests of municipal law enforcement.

Along with teaching at Western, Fuchs and his wife, Diane, teach religious school to kindergartners and first-graders in Southbury, and they make their home in Newtown with their two children, Rachael, 14, and Zach, 12. They love cruises and have 10 under their belts.

“It forces me to relax,” Fuchs says, “And with 50- to 60- hour work weeks and my various volunteer activities, this is no easy task.”

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