By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Board of Alderman and Mayor made it official June 14, Mark Dunbar is coming back to where it all started.
It took 33 years for the former Millington Police Department officer to become the Chief of Police in Flag City.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “After starting here and working here for about 26 months before going to the Sheriff’s Department, to come back, I was the first one to leave here and then go to the Sheriff’s Department.
“There were many that follow me,” Dunbar continued. “But it’s an honor to be the first one back. It’s full circle. What’s the song, “Right back where I started from.’”
With his wife Connie and father Leo by his side, Dunbar was welcomed by residents and city leaders at City Hall. Even a few MPD officers and inspectors made the trip over to greet the new chief.
“I want to do the best I can for the city of Millington and the residents and for the guys who work on the police department as well,” Dunbar added.
Dunbar was a part of that department from 1983-85. Then he pursued an opportunity for growth in law enforcement with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department earning the rank of Assistant Chief Deputy.
Dunbar grew up near Millington and graduated from Briarcrest High School in 1978. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the UT-Martin.
After his stop with the Millington Police Department, he joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in 1985. Dunbar rose through the ranks of patrolman, Sergeant and Lieutenant working various patrol and investigative positions.
“I’ve been through the battles at the Sheriff’s Department,” Dunbar recalled. “I’ve had every unit in the Sheriff’s Department under my command at one or another. I’ve gone through all the investigative units.
“I’ve ran K-9, SWAT, Bomb and I’ve been very fortunate,” he added. “I’ve gotten a chance to travel internationally with the FBI and counter terrorism. I’ve learned a lot about management and leadership, when to act and when not to over react. None of it is easy and some of it is trial and error.”
Dunbar said he inherits a solid staff that has rebuilt the trust with the residents of Millington. He is familiar with the leaders within the MPD from years of working alongside them on joint efforts.
“I just love Millington,” he said. “I have a lot of friends and relatives here. I’m kin to half of North Shelby County and South Tipton County. That’s the reason why I stayed a part of the community. I was president of the Booster Club a few years.
“No matter how good an organization is, there is always room for improvement and growth,” Dunbar concluded. “I’ve learned that in the Sheriff’s Department. You always are looking for ways to improve not only for the citizens but for the guys who are working for me. You have to be a leader for them as well.”
Dunbar was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2001 assuming command of the Metro Gang Unit and SWAT. In 2003, he assumed command of the Courts and Civil Division until his promotion to the rank of Inspector in 2005, at which time he took over as Commander of the Uniform Patrol Division. In 2008, he was assigned Special Operations (Street Crimes, Gang Unit, SWAT, Narcotics and K-9 unit.)
Dunbar was appointed to the rank of Assistant Chief Deputy over Special Operations and Investigative Units (Detectives, Fugitive and Homeland Security) in October 2010 and retained this position until November of 2015. Chief Dunbar’s current assignment is Commander over Patrol Field, Patrol Support Services (R.I.D.D., Traffic, Motors, Reserve Division, Emergency Services, and Rescue Operations) and the General Investigative Bureau (Detectives Division and A.L.E.R.T.)
Chief Dunbar has also completed advance study from the Southeastern Command and Leadership Academy through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also a graduate of LINT – Leadership in Terrorism, having studied Counter-Terrorism at the FBI National Academy, Quantico, VA and the Australian Institute of Police Management, Sydney, Australia. This course of study was in conjunction with command staff level officers from several countries worldwide.
Chief Dunbar is also an active or former member of the following organizations:
Sheriff’s Representative to the Memphis/Shelby County Metro Alarm Board
Executive Member of F.B.I. Joint Terrorism Task Force
National Sheriffs’ Association
Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association
Tennessee Narcotics Officers’ Association
Tennessee Gang Investigators’ Association
Committee Chair for the Enforcement Operations Safe Community Project
Sheriff’s Representative for Family Safety Center
West Tennessee and Sheriff’s Office Coordinator for the Tennessee Public Safety Networks, which assists officers in Critical Incident Stress Debriefings
Metropolitan Memphis Association of Chiefs of Police
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Chief Dunbar is married to Connie Jean Dunbar and has three children and 2 grandchildren.