A Leader Among Us

Blair McQuillan
March 29, 2012
By Blair McQuillan
For most cops, being feared by criminals, respected by their peers and recognized as a living legend in the law enforcement community is a distant dream. For York Regional Police Detective Sergeant Duncan MacIntyre, it’s a reality. With these attributes to his credit, it is only fitting that MacIntyre is the recipient of the 2011 Blue Line Magazine Police Leadership Award. The annual award recognizes officers who view leadership as an activity, not a position, and who take pride in their service to the public.

by Tracy Mackay-Stewart and Blair McQuillan

For most cops, being feared by criminals, respected by their peers and recognized as a living legend in the law enforcement community is a distant dream. For York Regional Police (YRP) Det/Sgt. Duncan MacIntyre, it's a reality.

During the course of his career, MacIntyre has gained a reputation as a dedicated officer who leads by example. He is known as a manager who promotes continued education and takes an active role in mentoring those under his command.

With these attributes to his credit, it is only fitting that MacIntyre is the recipient of the 2011 Blue Line Magazine Police Leadership Award, which recognizes officers who view leadership as an activity, not a position and take pride in serving the public.

"It's an honour to be viewed as a leader in the police community," said MacIntyre, who is currently assigned to the intelligence unit. "I've been very fortunate during my career, as I work for a great organization and have always worked with a great group of people."

A native of Brockville, Ontario, MacIntyre joined YRP in 1987. Initially, he worked uniform patrol based out of #1 District Headquarters, located in Newmarket. In 1994, he transferred to #2 District Headquarters in Richmond Hill and by 1996 he worked in the district's criminal investigations bureau (CIB).

In December 1997, MacIntyre, who has nine letters of recognition and three chief of police awards to his credit, took the lead in a joint-forces operation into an organized crime ring responsible for a series of break enters in the Greater Toronto Area. Dubbed Project Moustache, the operation was one of the first such initiatives YRP launched, according to Insp. Kevin Torrie.

"He convinced senior management of the merits of an investigation into these suspects and the benefits that would be realized by a collective joint-forces approach," said Torrie, who was MacIntyre's co-worker at the time. "Duncan planned and executed numerous techniques during the investigation, ultimately leading the team to identify an entire crime group, not only responsible for break and enters, but for robberies, stolen and re-vinned vehicles, debit and credit card fraud and boiler rooms."

Project Moustache concluded in February 1998 with 29 arrests and more than 200 charges laid. It was clear that much of the project's success could be credited to MacIntyre's tenacity.

"Duncan worked countless hours coordinating a group of individuals who had never worked together and who certainly never realized how busy and involved the suspects were," Torrie said. "His work ethic and dedication to the team's goals and objectives was the motivation for everyone involved to go above and beyond normal expectations."

In the months following the project, MacIntyre began work with the YRP Intelligence Unit. Eventually, he joined the provincial Biker Enforcement Unit (BEU) and began work on a career-defining initiative known as Project Shirlea.

"While still at the rank of constable, he was able to cultivate an agent within the realm of the Hells Angels," said YRP Cst. Pete Casey. "Duncan undertook the leadership role of agent handler and co-lead investigator … typically a supervisor's role."

Casey notes that even during this busy time MacIntyre would introduce any willing informants to newer officers. As a result, they gained valuable skills to assist them in their policing career.

In a 2005 letter of recognition, S/Sgt. Don Patrick of the Durham Regional Police Service acknowledged the positive impact that MacIntyre had on his career when he was a constable in the BEU.

"In August of 2001, I became a part of the investigative team for Project Shirlea," he wrote. "At the onset of the investigation, I had concerns about my experience, knowledge and abilities and addressed these concerns with Duncan and other members of the team. Duncan instilled in me the confidence that he had in my abilities and mentored me throughout the investigation."

YRP Cst. Tyrone Shaw, who also worked on Project Shirlea, echoed Patrick's statements.

"Prior to my working with the biker enforcement unit, I had heard of the legend that is Duncan MacIntyre, so needless to say I was intimidated to work for him," Shaw recalled. "Dunc was very welcoming and approachable whenever I had a question or problem. I worked with him for four years, the best of my career. His work ethic can only be admired and not copied as he works harder than any officer I've met."

However, Casey points out that it's not just co-workers who hold MacIntyre in high regard.

"Duncan is such a professional and great leader that even organized crime members respect him," Casey said. "If asked to write a letter for this award, some would."

By the time the project wrapped by in 2003, a total of 46 people were arrested, more than 240 drug, weapons and proceeds of crime charges were laid and 54 warrants executed in Ontario and Quebec. Of those arrested, 16 were members of five Ontario Hells Angels chapters. Police also seized 10 handguns, 70 long guns and $500,000 worth of cocaine, marijuana and prescription medication.

MacIntyre, who had been promoted to the rank of sergeant prior to the completion of the initiative, said the project was one of the greatest achievements of his career.

"This was my first large multi-jurisdictional investigation," he said. "We were dealing with a number of police agencies throughout the province and in Quebec and British Columbia as well. It truly showed what police agencies can accomplish when we work together."

MacIntyre also said the project helped him learn about the intricacies of leading large-scale investigations and the challenges that come with them.

"I realize as a manager now, how much that experience taught me," he said. "I worked with a lot of great people, but you have a number of different personalities to deal with, there were different styles of policing to deal with and then there were organizational and operational procedures to be aware of. In the end, it provided me with valuable management tools, but it was a time consuming project."

While time is always a precious commodity, Casey notes that MacIntyre is always willing to set his work aside at a moment's notice to offer assistance.

"Over the past 10 years I would call Dunc on his cell for advice or information and start off with, 'Hey Dunc, have you got a few minutes?'" Casey said. "He would always answer, 'Sure, what have you got?' Afterwards, I realized that his entire day was taken up with people making those calls to him."

MacIntyre's role as a leader within YRP has also paid dividends for the organization itself. Supt. Mark Tatz was one of MacIntyre's supervisors when he worked as a property crimes detective from 2005 to 2007. Tatz noticed that MacIntyre worked closely with every member of the unit, especially the six-month trainees.

"It's interesting to note that many of the trainees he worked with gravitated to special units, largely due to the influence and training they received from Duncan," he said.

For his part, MacIntyre said he is a "hands-on" manager who likes to stay up-to-date on everything that is happening within his unit. He said he doesn't have any particular style that he follows, but instead utilizes leadership qualities he learned from both supervisors and senior constables throughout his career.

An advocate of continued education, MacIntyre said he has taken a number of leadership courses during his career, including a new YRP initiative.

"Last year, I was part of the first Leadership in Action course for mid-level managers," he said. "That was a three-week course that really opened my eyes to the various styles of leadership that are available to supervisors. I also recognized that our organization is working to ensure that middle managers have the skills and abilities required to take our organization forward in the years to come."

As for his own future, the 25-year veteran isn't sure what's in store. He acknowledges that there are goals he hopes to reach before he leaves his current role and he is open to new challenges that may come his way.

"There's always life after intelligence," he said with a smile. "I'm looking forward to whatever new assignment I get."


Tracy Mackay-Stewart is a 34 year civilian member and Cst. Blair McQuillan is an eight-year member of York Regional Police. Both are currently assigned to corporate communications.

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