By Kimetha Hill
Tuesday June 24, 2014 was declared Captain Tony McElroy Day as the City of San Diego honored the retiring African American Captain. At 10 am the San Diego City Council held a special ceremony downtown at City Hall to recognize Captain McElroy as a leader, a pillar of the community and a revered African American hero in the community.
The City Hall Chambers were filled to capacity with family, friends, former co-workers and supporters as various elected leaders and officials gave remarks on Captain McElroy’s service to the community. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Capt. McElroy with his wife at his side, was presented with a plaque recognizing his commitment and service to not only the Southeastern San Diego community, but the City at large.
“I really have mixed emotions,” he shared. “Because I’ve been, over the years, so close to the community being that I grew up in the community there and I’ve been blessed to come back as the Captain of the division over there. It’s a lot of emotions going on. I don’t want to leave, but I know it’s time to spend more time with family so I’m looking forward to that.”
Captain McElroy was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in San Diego where he attended O’Farrell Junior High School, Morse High School, and San Diego State University. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration and pursued a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from National University. He is a graduate of the 231st FBI National Academy.
During his tenure as a lieutenant, Captain McElroy was Commanding Officer of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Air Support, Homeland Security, and Critical Incident Management Units. He was also assigned as the Watch Commander where he reviewed and approved all arrests made by department personnel, ensuring that the arrests were lawful and proper.
Captain McElroy was previously assigned as a Community Relations Special Assistant to the Chief of Police. In that position, he was a liaison between the Department and the Community, and advised the Chief of Police on cultural issues.
Captain McElroy’s retirement will leave a hole in the force as the number of African Americans in leadership positions within the force continues to dwindle. He is a vital link between the Southeastern San Diego community and SDPD. Not only did he build a bridge between the Black community and the police department, but Captain McElroy held a strong rapport with the Latino community.
Captain McElroy has worked in several different facets of the San Diego Police Department. He was a field-training officer and supervised a neighborhood policing team. He has worked in the Gang Unit, Narcotics Unit, Juvenile Investigations Unit, and Crimes Against Persons Unit. Captain McElroy was the Department lead during the inception of the San Diego Police Department’s Vehicle Stop Data Collection, a study that takes a look at Racial Profiling and Non-Biased Based Policing.
He is an academy instructor and diversity trainer for the department, as well as a consultant and trainer for the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Captain McElroy spoke passionately about the community, expressing that his heart will always be there. “My plans are to still be in the community and we started some mentorship programs with the kids. I made the youth a priority ever since I’ve been back as the Captain, and so I’m going to continue down that road. We’re doing mentorship programs that I’m going to continue with. I’m going to be part of the community supporting law enforcement to come out.”
Captain McElroy was sure to acknowledge the support he has received from the community, and his gratefulness for it. “If I’ve had any success it’s been because of the community partnerships and the people that God has put in my life that made it possible for me to do the things I do and so I’m looking forward to continuing that in return.”
Captain McElroy has been married for twenty-seven years to his wife, Kimberly, a former lieutenant of the San Diego Police Department. He is a running and exercise enthusiast and also enjoys cycling, basketball, golf and tennis.
He officially retires this Friday, June 27.