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Long Beach Law

Jim McDonnell, class of 1981

Jim McDonnellJim McDonnell learned a lot at Saint Anselm College, but some of the most valuable lessons are not listed on his resume.

"The benefit I got out of Saint Anselm was the relationships, meeting people from a broader background than I had," he says. He came to believe all things are possible-which is how the criminal justice major from Brookline, Mass., became one of the nation's pre-eminent law enforcement officials.

In March 2010, the Saint Anselm grad was named chief of police for Long Beach, Calif., a city of nearly half a million people with one of the world's largest shipping ports. Long Beach is a diverse city 20 miles south of Los Angeles, and its challenges include gang activity and an influx of illegal immigrants. But McDonnell is known for being a bridge builder and an innovative leader.

Budget cuts have slashed the number of police officers, but the chief enjoys the challenge of doing more with less. "We are policing more strategically. We are seeing policing as a business more now than ever before," he says.

McDonnell's appointment follows nearly 30 years on the Los Angeles force, where he received numerous awards on his way up the ladder from patrol duty to second-in-command. He has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, and he is a graduate of the FBI's prestigious National Executive Institute.

Confidence was never in short supply. When he wanted to join the LAPD, he dreamed big. "I figured if I didn't give it my best shot, I would always regret what could have been. I moved out here with two suitcases and $400, and no car, in the car capital of America. Somehow it all worked out."