Home Again
and Ready to Protect, Proud to Serve

Written by Pamela Alstead

Gary Giles' (M.B.A., 2012) father wanted him to be a lawyer. But Giles knew, even as a boy, he would grow up to be a police officer.

“I always knew that’s what I would do,” he remembers. “There was no question.”

Gary Giles (M.B.A., 2012)

Gary Giles is Chief of Police at the Department of Public Safety in Orem, Utah.

His childhood home was Pleasant Grove, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. As a teenager, Giles went often on “ride-alongs” in the squad car manned by his brother-in-law, a police officer in neighboring Orem, Utah. From that squad car window, Giles experienced the on-the-ground realities of law enforcement. "I loved it," he recalls. “I really enjoyed seeing the police doing good, helping people feel safe, and bringing the ‘bad guys’ to justice."

Giles became a police officer in Orem’s Department of Public Safety. He and his wife Nichole and their four children live in Orem still – or rather, again. After two years away, as chief of police in Portland, Texas, Giles came home to Orem in the summer of 2014 as the youngest police chief in the town’s history.

Giles’s path unfolded even before he graduated high school. Excited by those early “ride-alongs,” he volunteered at the police department, seeking any opportunity to be involved. “I told them I would do anything, pull weeds in the parking lot if I had to,” he says. But soon, he had real work. “By the time I was 18, I held a full-time position as dispatcher,” he relates, a job that included handling 911 calls.

Giles rose quickly, achieving the rank of lieutenant at the age of 34. Preparing for further career growth, he completed his M.B.A. at NCU in 2012. The position of police chief is essentially a management role, Giles explains. Responsibilities include budget oversight, effective deployment of personnel, staff development, and public relations.

Giles chose NCU for its flexibility that allowed him to continue his demanding duties, but especially because NCU is designated as a “preferred school” by the FBI National Academy. Moreover, he claims,

“Fighting crime is a matter of accountability – in a civilized society, you cannot break the law.”

“The coursework was more rigorous than I ever encountered in a brick-and-mortar setting." For example, his understanding of management statistics was expected to be comprehensive and demonstrable. “We didn't just take tests," he states. “We were expected to write about statistics, talk about them, and present our understanding in an extensive research paper.”

But even with his M.B.A., Giles knew the management structure of Orem’s police department offered scant opportunity for further advancement. This understanding coincided with his family's readiness for, as he calls it, "new adventures."

Wherever they decided to go next, Giles explains, “It would have to be warm, near the ocean, and within driving distance of a cruise port.”

The timing was auspicious for a new opportunity to apply for the position of police chief in Portland, Texas. Portland met all of the family’s criteria. It is situated at an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico and is only a 4-hour drive from Galveston, a popular cruise port. And, as Giles mentions wryly, “It’s definitely warm.”

He got the job. “Out of approximately 200 applicants, somehow I floated to the top," he relates modestly.

Giles believes the new position would not have been possible without his M.B.A. Such education “is essential for meaningful advancement, whether in the police structure or virtually any other organization,” Giles asserts.

The accomplishment Giles cherishes most from his Portland tenure is his role in solving a tough homicide case. “I was sent to Portland for a reason,” he believes, “and I think that was it.” But he quickly emphasizes, “I'm not the one who broke the case. I put the right people into the right place so that they could solve it. I encouraged people to take on tasks I knew they were capable of, even if they doubted themselves.”

“Service means that we give of ourselves to make someone else’s life more complete, even if just for a moment.”

In 2013, the police chief position back in Orem opened up, and Giles and his family felt their home was calling. On August 4, 2014, Giles, now 37, was sworn into office.

The department’s motto is “Ready to protect, proud to serve," and Giles seeks to realize those values in his daily actions. “Protection” boils down to “making people feel safe,” he states simply. “Fighting crime is a matter of accountability – in a civilized society, you cannot break the law.”

Police service, he says, takes many forms. “You can see it in the little things, such as comforting that lost child.” But far more than that, he says, “Service means that we give of ourselves to make someone else’s life more complete, even if just for a moment.”

“People sometimes don’t realize how deeply committed the police officers are to their community,” he shares. “The police are that ship in the night that can come rescue us.”