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Monroe’s chief announces retirement

Monroe’s police chief confirmed on Thursday she will be retiring as of Sept. 1. She also may be gearing up to run for city council.

Chief Debra Duncan said she felt it was the right time to retire and explore other opportunities but declined to say if that included running for office.

Duncan has been chief since July 2006. Her tenure has been a bumpy one over the past year, and the feuding factions on city council also have feuded over her.

“I retired on my own terms. It was my decision,” Duncan said, adding, “It has been challenging for me to remain positive, run the department and stay one step ahead of those who would try to discredit me.”

In February, a consultant’s report for the city council that focused on dysfunction in city government found “credible evidence” that Duncan had secretly tape recorded former city manager Wayne Herron without his consent.

Her conduct did not appear to violate police policy against recording another member of the force without their knowledge because Herron was not an officer, the report said. At the time, Duncan denied doing anything wrong and said her reputation was built on honesty.

Herron abruptly resigned last July following a contentious closed-door council debate over his choice not to give Duncan a performance bonus. An anonymous call by a woman threatening the chief was traced to Herron’s home.

In March, Monroe’s interim city manager said he would not take disciplinary action against Duncan, but said Duncan told him she had taped Herron and gave the reasons why she did it.

Councilwoman Dottie Nash, one of Duncan’s most vocal supporters, praised the chief and said she has done an excellent job.

Nash noted that Duncan has been eligible to retire for a couple years now. “I’m sure (the controversies) have taken a toll on her because that’s a lot of stress to live with,” she said.

Duncan, 58, said she was most proud of the relations the department has built with the community, and called community policing her passion.

Duncan said she plans to attend Charlotte School of Law in the fall.

If Duncan decides to seek one of the three council seats up for election, she needs to hurry. The deadline to file for the Oct. 8 election is Friday at noon. All three incumbents, and three challengers, already have filed to run.

Bell: 704-358-5696; on Twitter: @abell
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