The city of Merriam has named a new chief of police. Major Darren McLaughlin officially took over responsibilities as head of the Merriam Police Department on Monday.
McLaughlin has been serving the police department for 30 years. He takes over from Michael Daniels, who retired as chief of police in April.
Before taking on his new role, McLaughlin had taken a leave of absence for seven months while going through cancer treatment for stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has been cancer-free since July. Capt. Todd Allen served as chief of police in the interim.
“The city could have very easily decided to move on since I was out on medical leave, but they, in testament to the men and women here of this organization, they waited for me, hoping I would get back,” he said. “With their support and my family’s support, I did.”
McLaughlin started working for the Merriam Police Department as a patrol officer in July 1989. He served in patrol and investigations until he was injured on the job about 16 years ago. He then stayed on in administrative roles and continued to rise in the ranks to his new role.
“I’ve always kept a very positive attitude about stuff,” he said. “I could have very easily, the first injury I got, lamented on the fact my career was over and gone into a bad place, but I had good people around me. My family is a group of strong people, and this organization, they didn’t let me go into that type of situation where I was down on myself.”
The change in leadership won’t result in any major changes at the police station, McLaughlin said, adding that he does hope to work on improving communications and focus on retention and recruitment of officers.
McLaughlin credits the support of his family at home as well as his work family at the police station for his opportunities and blessings over the years.
“I’ve worked hard, that’s true, but I still believe that there’s been a lot of fortune and blessings in my life that put me in the right place with the right organization, with the right people,” he said. “I always credit that more than me.”
He’s also thankful for the support from the community, including letters from school children. His optimism coupled with many people’s encouragement has helped him see those “setbacks” as blessings in disguise.
“I enjoy this organization, enjoy this job; because of that, I fought really hard to get back to my family and get back here,” McLaughlin said. “This is my second family. This is what I love doing. And I owe it to the organization, to the citizens and to these people here at the PD to pay it forward and pay it back. That’s what I’m going to do.”