By Darlene Cook
For many student veterans students studying Criminal Justice, Danny L. McGuire Jr., Ed.D., has become an ally, mentor, and life coach as he applies his experience as a police officer and the lessons of his father, a Vietnam veteran, to his daily interactions with his students. Dr. Danny, as his students affectionately call him, played a key role in launching the Criminal Justice program at National Louis University in 2012, but it is his more than 20 years of service in law enforcement, following closely in his father’s footsteps, which shaped his role and commitment to his students in the classroom.
Dr. Danny’s father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. While reflecting on his father’s impact on his personality, McGuire shared, “my father is a man of principle and character.”
In 1970, Danny McGuire Sr. took the Chicago Police exam and was denied employment because he is only 5’5″ tall and the CPD had a restriction, at that time, for a minimum height of 5’7 and ¾”.
“Although it was my father’s dream to be a Chicago police officer, he was denied even after explaining his Vietnam service,” Dr. Danny said.
Some people found ways to circumvent this restriction, as many people under the 5’7″ height were being hired to CPD, and a few were even physically unfit for military service. But Danny McGuire Sr. would not compromise his character. Instead, he took a truck driving job, only to be laid off and out of work for several years until he took employment with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, first as a court deputy, then in the Department of Corrections. The 1980 Chicago Police exam was free of the height restriction and he took the test and was hired.
“After learning this story, I asked my father if he ever regretted his decision to not ‘circumvent’ the system,” Dr. Danny recalled. He stated, ‘Nope! I did just fine!’ Not only did he do fine, he maintained his integrity and that’s where I come from.”
Danny set out to follow in his father’s footsteps, so at the age of 18 he became a cadet explorer with the Palos Heights Police Department and later one of their first Community Service Officers (CSO). In 1992, at the age of 21, Dr. Danny earned a job with the Cook County Sheriff Department’s South Suburban Drug Initiative, a federally-funded narcotics task force. After Dr. Danny graduated from the police academy, he was one of three people chosen to serve in the Northeastern Metropolitan Enforcement Group (NEMEG) where his duties were covert narcotics investigations. After four years with the Sheriff’s Department, Dr. Danny’s dream came true; in 1996 he was hired as a Chicago police officer, just like his father.
The impact of military service, also just like his father’s, is not lost on Dr. Danny. He believes, “student veterans bring the important virtues of honor, character and self-discipline to the CJ field. Oftentimes many great police officers have served in our nation’s armed services. Veterans have the ability to adapt to circumstances and have an incredible sense of service.”
By understanding the unique skills and abilities that student veterans bring to this field and many others, Danny focuses his efforts on building his students up from the foundations established while serving in the military. He also utilizes the unique experiences of his military students to develop peer-to-peer support.
Dr. Danny always shares two quotes with students: “humility is the trait of a warrior,” and ‘for one much is given, much is expected.” He encourages every student to,“refine their work ethic, always be positive, give 110% with everything you do, and if you need help, ask people for help. Never take shortcuts and never think you are better than anyone.” These lessons were instilled in him at a young age through his father, who instilled in him values he passes along to his students in the classroom.
Darlene Cook, B.A. in Criminal Justice 2015 (expected) served as a sergeant in the U.S.Army from 1982 to 1988.