Irvine swears in a homegrown police chief


For the first time, Irvine has a police chief who began at the department as an officer and rose to the organization’s highest rank.

In a swearing-in ceremony Thursday, Chief Mike Hamel completed the ascension, taking over for the retired David Maggard to become the department’s fifth chief.

“We no longer need to import excellence ... we have it right here and it permeates the Irvine Police Department,” City Manager Sean Joyce said.

Hamel has spent almost his entire career in Irvine. He started as an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1993 before transferring to the Irvine department in 1995.

He is a graduate of UC Irvine, where he received a bachelor’s degree in criminology. He earned a master’s in public policy administration from Cal State Long Beach.

He first gained rank at the Irvine Police Department when he was promoted to sergeant in 1999. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2004 and to area commander in 2007.

In 2012, he was elevated to deputy chief, overseeing day-to-day operations. He stayed in that position until the promotion to chief was sealed Thursday with his wife, Kathryn, pinning a new badge on his uniform.

Hamel will wear the same shield as Maggard, who had passed it on at an earlier event marking his retirement from the department. Maggard is now assistant chief of operations with the Los Angeles Airport Police.

“This is one of my proudest moments right now,” Maggard said of passing the mantle to Hamel.

After Hamel took the oath of office, Maggard stepped to the podium to administer a second oath.

Maggard crafted the vow specifically for Irvine. Under his watch, all officers made a promise to fairly serve and protect the “diverse and dynamic community.”

“The Irvine community has high expectations, as it should,” Hamel said.

In short remarks, the new chief vowed to take on the role with humility, striving to see rank not as a privilege but as a responsibility.

“I’m deeply honored, humbled and grateful to become Irvine’s fifth police chief,” he said.