- August 12, 2020
As was noted in this last week’s County Hall Corner, Williamsport Police Chief Damon Hagan conducted an important press conference to address the recent number of shootings in the city of Williamsport. Only in the position of chief of police since January of this year, Hagan inherited a department that was suffering from low morale
As was noted in this last week’s County Hall Corner, Williamsport Police Chief Damon Hagan conducted an important press conference to address the recent number of shootings in the city of Williamsport. Only in the position of chief of police since January of this year, Hagan inherited a department that was suffering from low morale and a number of legal issues that needed to be resolved. When I asked Chief Hagan about how he felt taking over a department that was so toxic, he replied without hesitation, “I believed I was the only one who could fix it.”
Coming from others, that might have been braggadocio, but Damon Hagan is an individual who believes what he says and lives what he believes. Born in California in 1970, he became an orphan at age eight, and when his grandmother was unable to care for him due to illness, he was fortunate to be accepted into the Cal Farley Boy’s Ranch, located in Amarillo, Texas. Noted as one of the best residential communities for at-risk children in the country, Damon thrived there and graduated in 1988, lettering in football, basketball, and track.
Uncertain of his future path, he decided to enlist in the United States Army, where we served in the 24th Infantry Division at Ft Stewart, Georgia. In 1991, he was deployed to the Middle East for the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, where he served for seven months. After his enlistment was up, he tried college for a semester, but it was a bit too tame for his spirit at that time, so he reenlisted back into the army, this time joining the Special Forces Group, the Green Berets, located at Ft Bragg, North Carolina. Chief Hagan states that he was in a support unit that did not actually wear a green beret but rather a maroon one. However, he was obviously a top-notch soldier as he was strongly urged to consider advancing in his military career.
But by this time, Hagan had found a new interest, and that was in law enforcement. While stationed at Ft Bragg, he began studying criminal justice at Fayetteville Technical Community College. After separation from the army the second time, he applied to the Fayetteville Police Department Academy. There were a couple hundred applicants, and he was one of eleven that were selected. Graduating from the Academy in 1996, he began working as a police officer for that community, eventually becoming an investigator as part of the Office of Special Information, a gang intelligence-gathering unit.
Hagan was a full-time policeman at the same time studying full-time, and the day after he graduated with an Associates Degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College in May 1999, he headed to Lycoming County for a job opportunity with the Williamsport Bureau of Police.
Coming from a nationally accredited police department, he quickly noticed areas in WBOP that needed to be improved. One was the lack of a policy manual. There were different sets of memos, but they were not standardized. John McKenna, a new corporal who soon after became a captain, asked Hagan along with two other officers to serve on a Policy Revision Committee which developed the very first and original version of the Williamsport Bureau of Police Operations Manual. From the very start of his career, Damon Hagan showed he was a different kind of police officer.
In his twenty years with the Williamsport Bureau of Police, Damon Hagan has served in every capacity, from beat cop to specialized duty with gangs, narcotics, special response, and even hostage negotiator. Since Dagon Hagan became Williamsport Police Chief in January of 2019, three lawsuits have been settled, or in process, four unfair labor practices have been settled, and there have been eight promotions, including Brittany Anderson, the first female promoted in the history of the Williamsport Bureau of Police. Chief Hagan is a man making a difference.