Armand Dupre, former Bel Air deputy chief, dies at 54

Armand Dupre, who retired from his position as the Bel Air Police Department's deputy chief earlier this month, died at his White Hall home Tuesday.

Mr. Dupre was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago and the illness prevented him from being in the office for much of the last year.

Mr. Dupre served more than 33 years with the police department, serving as a voluntary member of the police auxiliary before being hired as an officer in September 1978.

During his career he filled a variety of roles ,including patrol officer, corporal and sergeant, firearms instructor, administrative sergeant and deputy chief.

He was also the department's police dog handler in 1990, handling a yellow lab named Woody, who was the first lab trained in the state for both drug detection and patrol work, according to a release from the police department.

Mr. Dupre was awarded a number of commendations during his career, including a life-saving award.

The former deputy chief is remembered by his colleagues for his patience, dedication and dry sense of humor.

"I always thought he was a little competitive with me about who was the first to come in and the last to leave," Chief Leo Matrangola said of his former colleague.

Matrangola laughed as he remembered the competition.

"We never talked about it," Matrangola said.

Matrangola added that if he arrived at the office around 7:30 a.m. and the deputy chief arrived after him, he noticed the next day that Mr. Dupre would arrive at 7 a.m.

The unspoken game was just one example of Mr. Dupre's dedication to the police department.

"He never took a sick day, for 30 years," Matrangola said.

The town has a limit on the number of sick days that can transfer to the next year.

"He had been over the maximum for 10 years," Matrangola said.

The chief said his late colleague was always willing to go to lunch with a colleague and if he had an evening meeting to attend, he would simply stay at the office until the meeting, regularly putting in 10- or 12-hour workdays.

Matrangola said former members of his shift have been asked to be pallbearers at Mr. Dupre's funeral.

"I think that that says a lot about who your friends are," Matrangola said.

He added that Mr. Dupre had friends outside the police department, but was very close with those who are part of it.

"It's not only a profession for him, it's a way of life," Matrangola said.

Not only did Mr. Dupre meet some of his close friends at the Bel Air Police Department, he also met his wife, Karen, there.

"She was hired 20 years ago and they were married 10 years ago," Matrangola said.

Mr. Dupre had pictures in his office of hunting successes, a pastime he enjoyed along with his wife.

"He and his wife were both avid hunters," Matrangola said.

He remembered times when the couple would bring in deer jerky or deer chili to share at the department.

"The would have to lie to me and tell me it was beef to get me to eat it, it was the only time he lied to me," Matrangola said.

Matrangola said the former deputy chief was the best shot in the department and had been for years.

"He always beat me," Matrangola said.

Matrangola added Mr. Dupre was the only person in the department he knew got 100 percent on his gun qualification.

"We had to change the rules that if you were a firearms instructor you couldn't win the trophy," Matrangola said.

He explained that every year the department competes and every year, Mr. Dupre would win. Matrangola remembers Mr. Dupre joking with fellow officers, reminding them that if they hadn't changed the rules, his office would be too packed with trophies for him to enter.

"I think he has sort of a dry sense of humor," Matrangola said.

He said Mr. Dupre would make a comment or a joke with a completely straight face.

He remembered his colleague asking to have the police dog trained in protection and Matrangola said he asked Mr. Dupre if a yellow lab could bite.

"He said go ask the detective sergeant," Matrangola said.

Matrangola cracked a smile as he explained the dog had bit the detective sergeant in the arm when he walked into a room unexpectedly.

Until that moment, Matrangola said, he hadn't heard anything about the incident.

In addition to his sense of humor and hard-working nature, the quality Matrangola remembers most is Mr. Dupre's patience.

"He would be a very good listener and very patient, which is the opposite of me," Matrangola said.

He said he was always willing to hear people out and let them vent a little.

"People would walk out of his office feeling like the situation was resolved," Matrangola said.

Matrangola described him as an asset to the small agency.

"I think what defines him as a man was he's very patient and absolutely a cop's cop," Matrangola said.

Mr. Dupre retired July 7 and the department had been working to determine who would fill his place.

Sgt. Rick Peschek was promoted to deputy chief this week, a promotion that was planned, but unfortunately coincided with Mr. Dupre's passing.

The chief said while the promotion was planned, and while the timing may seem poor, it will also put a respected officer in a place of authority in a time of need.

"He'll definitely be missed by all the guys here," Matrangola said of Mr. Dupre.

Mr. Dupre died at his White Hall home surrounded by his family, according to his obituary, which is on Page A8.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Ryan Dupre. Visitation will be at Schimunek Funeral Home of Bel Air, 610 W. MacPhail Road on Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday with interment to follow in Highview Memorial Gardens in Fallston.

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