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Climbing the Ranks: Captain Ray Dunbar

Branford promotes one of three police lieutenants and Patch sits down with the elected to learn more about the man behind the badge.

Today, a Branford son takes up his new position as Captain after having climbed the ranks for 31 years in the Department.

Now a Clinton resident, , a 1975 graduate, talks about his love for his hometown and his journey from supernumerary officer (part-time) to becoming Captain. In addition to his by the Branford Board of Police Commissioners where he competed against two other internal candidates, Dunbar has received past promotions to patrol sergeant in 2000, patrol lieutenant in 2003 and most recently to administrative lieutenant in 2010. You can learn more about Dunbar’s accomplishment since starting fulltime with Branford Police Department in 1985,

Dunbar is a humble servant of the badge but confides that he didn’t always want to be a police officer and though he won’t talk about it on the record, he’s also astute in politics as he served on the Branford RTM as a democrat for more than a decade. Patch poses the following to the town’s newest Police captain…

Branford Patch: What were your aspirations as a child? Did you always want to be a police officer?
Captain Ray Dunbar: In all honestly, as a child I wanted to be a fireman.

Branford Patch: What changed your mind? How did you become a police officer? 
Captain Ray Dunbar: It started off as something to have an extra income coming into the house and it just grew from there… It’s in the same field – public service – so I did it. I had doubts in the early years, if this was really for me and it just took a life of its own.

Branford Patch: Was there ever a time when you wish you were a fireman?
Captain Ray Dunbar: It wasn’t a long period of time but there was a time I was an officer in Company 5. Because it was kind of hard to be an officer in the fire department and a policeman – even though it was part time – I resigned as an officer to just do police work. I didn’t want there to be a conflict between the groups.

Branford Patch: First day on the job?
Captain Ray Dunbar: As a supernumerary officer, I showed up here at 6 o’clock on a Friday evening and became the rider – the second person – on the 7 to 3. Back in those days, you learned almost everything on the street. We’ve progressed greatly in the state of Connecticut since then. I used to have much more hair on this one part of my head.

Branford Patch: You had just become the when Irene hit. Birth by fire?
Captain Ray Dunbar: It began looking to be totally overwhelming but once you let people do the jobs they’ve already been trained to do and just basically stay out of their way, it really was a smooth transition for the event but not because of anything special I did but because of the people that were there knew what to do and you just had to let them do it.

Branford Patch: Did you always have goals to climb the ranks with Branford Police Department?
Captain Ray Dunbar: It didn’t start off that way but by the fifteen-year mark and it finally kicked in: make your mind up. What do you want to do? And that’s why I went for the sergeant’s test that year. I liked what I did and I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a lot of good people around me to mentor me so I’ve been lucky.

Branford Patch: So when you say, ‘I like what I do,’ what do you like best?
Captain Ray Dunbar: What I like about what I do is I do all kinds of things. It’s hard for me to get into a rut. I do many different things and I enjoy multitasking. I like challenges and they’ll throw some challenges at me and if I don’t know how to do it, I’ll go out and find out how to do it and get it done.

Branford Patch: You’ve been here 31 years… best chief you’ve ever worked for?
Captain Ray Dunbar: I won’t even give that answer. Every chief was unique in their own way. Every chief in this department at one time or another gave me opportunities. So as a whole, they all did great things for me. Obviously I am loyal to the person I am with right now.

Branford Patch: Greatest mentor?
Captain Ray Dunbar: They’ve all mentored me in various ways. One of the candidates [Lt. Art Kohloff] last night [Thursday, Jan. 26] used to be one of the biggest supporters for me to not get too upset about things and his saying was, ‘Be like a duck Ray and let it roll down your back.’ And I’ve always appreciated that.

Branford Patch: Have you ever not gotten a promotion?
Captain Ray Dunbar: The first time I went for sergeant, I think I came out third or fourth. That’s when Captain [Geoffrey] Morgan made sergeant. You don’t always get things.

Branford Patch: You’ve been with the department long enough to retire, but you haven’t. Why?
Captain Ray Dunbar: I can retire any day I want, but I still like what I am doing. If it was a money issue, I can retire and take a job some place else and make more money but would I be happy? Probably not.

Branford Patch: What do you like about Branford that keeps you here?
Captain Ray Dunbar: There’s no question that Branford is my home. I was born in the city [New Haven] and I moved to Clinton for a bigger house but Branford’s my home.

Branford Patch: What do you like best about Branford police tactics?
Captain Ray Dunbar: There’s no rut here. I don’t think anyone should pick one thing because they are all important. When they started community policing; it’s really a concept that small towns don’t really do. We do Comstat to attack small problems; small towns just didn’t do that. They are always willing to try something to make it better and I believe that’s why this department continues to grow – because they are not afraid to take chances. They are not afraid to do things that are sometimes out of the box for towns our size and that’s why we’re fortunate to work here because those opportunities and challenges, which is what I always like to be part of. That’s what I hope will pull more applicants into our department, knowing we try to be progressive in everything we do.

Branford Patch: Do you have goals or ambitions to become chief?
Captain Ray Dunbar: If I didn’t have a goal or ambition to become a chief, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now.

Branford Patch: Is there one thing you are most proud of that you’ve done in your time at the department?
Captain Ray Dunbar: … most people don’t see me… if I could be the invisible man and get it done, I would.

Branford Patch: Piece of advice for new officers coming into the department?
Captain Ray Dunbar: It’s a good job; it’s a good living. Embrace it. There are personal rewards when you are doing the job that you will feel even if people don’t see it. You’ll develop your own pride in what you are doing.


SolarPete January 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Ray was a hell raiser when he was a kid, but all that changed while he was in the US Navy. He came home all grown up and found his path in life. Look at him now a Captain in the same town he grew up Paratus Et Potens (Ready and Able), Semper Fortis (Always Strong), Non Sibi, Sed Patriae (Not for ourselves, but for our country), Sounds like Ray took this to heart while in the police Department
Hepburn January 31, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Wasn't it a prerequisite to have a BS or MS in order to obtain the position of Captain? I thought that is why when the initial positions of Captain were first established within the Branford PD that the applicants had to have at least a BS? Therefore at the time only 3 of them held either a BS or MS and could apply? Is Branford going backwards? Is this because aside form a very small handful of management in that department most have not furthered their education? I'm all for promoting within the department, however, I don't understand how only a few officers have heightened their education, (no doubt while working full-time and going to school, raising families, etc...) and others have not applied higher education or the same standard of learning and walk into open positions just because. No offense against any of them personally, however, I question the process that the commission is using in filling all higher level positions within the department. Has Chief Halloran received his MS yet? The position of Chief had a prerequisite of at least a MS degree. However, that didn't seem to matter and the promotions are based on a "who you know" and "extremely political" basis rather than taking into consideration the education, dedication, work records, leadership, management experience and training of the applicants. These recent promotions are more than questionable. Really sad that standards are bring lowered.

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