Halls of Fame
Craig Hunter began his career in law enforcement by serving as a Campus Police Safety Officer at Santa Ana College, where he was pursuing an AA degree in Criminal Justice. During this time he also served as a Garden Grove police reserve officer.
Chief Hunter remembers, “I had been a Police Explorer in the Santa Ana Police Department for three years before I graduated from Santa Ana High School in 1976, and I knew that I wanted a career in law enforcement. All Santa Ana College security guards were sent to the Orange County Sheriff’s Reserve Officer’s Academy. That training also qualified me to be a Garden Grove police reserve officer.”
Chief Hunter left Santa Ana College in 1979 to enter the Riverside County Sheriff’s Academy. Upon completing the rigorous six-month training, he was elected president of his graduating class, #175. He also received the Honor Recruit Award and the Top Gun Award.
He then served as a Deputy Sheriff for three years before moving to the Anaheim Police Department in 1982, where he now serves as Deputy Chief of Police in California’s tenth largest city, overseeing all daily operations for the department of nearly 800 full-time and volunteer members and a budget of $120 million dollars.
His leadership achievements and list of accomplishments includes a host of “firsts.” Chief Hunter developed and implemented the inaugural undercover tagger program in the United States, which was reported in Police Chief Magazine (1993), as well as developed the first countywide HazSWAT team, which was also the first team in the U.S. (2005). He also developed and commanded the Anaheim national model Tourist Oriented Policing Program. Hunter’s proactive approach to ensuring public safety has positioned Anaheim as a national leader in numerous areas, including tourist policing, community policing and problem solving (COPPS) and homeland security. “Anaheim has been named the safest resort city in America and consistently one of the safest of California’s ten largest cities,” Hunter says.
In nominating Chief Hunter for an Alumni Achievement Award, Professor George Wright also points out, “Chief Hunter provided key leadership in several events where the eyes of the world were on Anaheim, including the 2002 World Series, two Stanley Cup Championship series, and the 2003 World Gymnastics Championships.
“Chief Hunter has played a pivotal role in developing the Anaheim Police Department as a recognized leader in homeland security and community policing.
“Most recently, the Department received international recognition in Police Problem Solving and was selected as a finalist for the distinguished Herman Goldstein Award at the 2007 Problem-Oriented Policing Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.”
In a career that has spanned thirty years and all aspects of policing, Chief Hunter is convinced that the education he received at Santa Ana College played a pivotal role in his personal and professional development. “I was an average—even mediocre high school student, and SAC gave me a new appreciation for education. My first instructor, George Wright, put a real-life spin on what policing was all about. My freshman composition teacher, Mrs. Anderson, helped me get squared away on sentence construction and grammar. She taught me how to write, which has become my forté. Writing is an essential skill in police work. I tell my officers, ‘You will have a reputation among detectives before you ever meet them, because they know who writes good reports and who doesn’t.’ I write all the time, everything from staff reports to proposals and articles for publication, and I use all kinds of writing skills.”
While living in Riverside and serving on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept, Chief Hunter obtained his AA degree from Riverside City College. He holds a B.A. degree in Organizational Leadership from Bellevue University and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Chapman University, as well as a community college teaching credential. He is a graduate of several prestigious law enforcement leadership programs, including the FBI National Academy, Command College, POST Leadership Institute, and the Delinquency Control Institute at the University of Southern California. His commitment to continuing education is a mantra that he preaches at every opportunity. “Everyone needs continuing personal and professional development. The community college system is designed to prepare people to create and fill jobs, which is the backbone of our market-based political and financial system. The community college system is the bedrock of the workforce in a market-based economy.
“Community colleges also are able to identify emerging job markets and move quickly to provide cutting-edge education and skills, taught by practitioners; that is, people who actually are using the skills and doing the jobs they are teaching. This gives students a huge advantage, because there is a big difference between learning from a textbook and learning on the job. Learning communities like those provided at Santa Ana College are essential to having a well-trained workforce with relevant, contemporary skills.”
Hunter has long been active in Anaheim Boy Scout Troop #733, as well as serving on the board of the Anaheim Police Athletic League, which sponsors “Cops for Kids,” a program supporting youth sports. He is a member of the Orange County Athletic Directors Association, the Orange County High School Football Officials Association and the Southern California Collegiate Football Officials Association.
Chief Hunter is married and the father of four children.