McNeil named Officer of the Year
By Traci Chapman
Nineteen years ago, Camie McNeil joined Mustang Police Department.
Last week, the veteran detective was named American Legion Post 353’s Outstanding Police Officer of 2014, an award her boss, fellow officers and people throughout the community said was very well-deserved.
“Camie consistently maintains empathy for crime victims while methodically investigating offenses of all types,” Mustang Police Chief Chuck Foley said. “McNeil has traditionally been the primary investigator in crimes against children and sexual assault victims.”
In addition to her case duties, McNeil has taken a lead role in communication relations for the department, including Shop with a Cop, begun in 2011 as a partnership with Yukon Police Department and last year expanded to include Mustang students, Foley said. She also was assigned the task of meeting with local media about cases, arrests and other police activity, he said.
It was September 2011 when a case that demanded all of her skills as an investigator and communicator would thrust Mustang Police Department – and specifically McNeil – into the national spotlight. For McNeil, it would not only be a challenge as a detective, but it would also extend into her personal life, because she knew both the victim and the woman who would be accused of killing him.
It was the night of Sept. 20, 2011, when McNeil was called to the home of former Mustang City Councilman and Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan. The Mustang man had been shot by an intruder, his wife, Rebecca Bryan, said. It was a difficult case from the start because McNeil knew the Bryans from church. It became more so as the investigation quickly took a turn detectives didn’t expect. Working with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, McNeil learned things were not as they seemed in the Bryans’ marriage.
“Camie’s tasks included coordination of investigative and forensic tasks and conducting interviews of witnesses and involved persons over an extended period of time with OSBI team members, who had joined the investigation at its inception,” Foley said.
Although Rebecca Bryan said an intruder entered the couple’s home and shot her husband, evidence found in the Bryans’ dryer – including the gun, shell casings, a glove and a blanket – cast doubt on her story. McNeil was tasked with interviewing Rebecca Bryan, collecting evidence and working a high-profile case which would garner national interest.
“Now challenged with what was likely the biggest case in her career, Camie had to act on behalf of the deceased, innocent victim Chief Keith Bryan, who deserved the best investigation possible,” Foley said. “Detective McNeil was not only willing to accept this challenge but overcame all obstacles based on the eventual, successful outcome of the case.”
It was McNeil’s testimony in Rebecca Bryan’s preliminary hearing that gave many people, including the Bryans’ friends and even some family members, a completely different picture of the Mustang woman. The work leading up to that testimony continued for months, while McNeil also served as the department’s only detective on other cases running through it, Foley said.
“Not only did McNeil have to deal with the death of someone she knew, she was forced into considering someone else she knew as the prime suspect in the homicide,” the chief said. “This just enhanced the pressure of investigating a high profile crime with a lot of local and national media attention along with the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.”
It was McNeil’s hard work, her ability to work seamlessly with OSBI agents and get to the truth of the matter – no matter how difficult – that helped prosecutors obtain a conviction of Rebecca Bryan on May 21, 2013, Canadian County District Attorney Michael Fields said. The verdict was a victory for prosecutors and law enforcement, many of whom knew Keith Bryan, as well as the Bryan family and his many friends, the district attorney said.
“Camie McNeil’s work in the Bryan case exemplified professionalism, diligence, and a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Fields stated in a Tuesday email. “The citizens of Mustang and the state of Oklahoma are well served by her desire to seek the truth and pursue justice.”
“We are proud of Detective McNeil and congratulate her on the award,” City Manager Tim Rooney said Tuesday. “It’s always gratifying when a member of our staff is recognized for the great work they do.”
While McNeil’s accomplishments in the Bryan case were known to many, it was the quality of her work, day in and day out, that really set her apart, Foley said.
“We as a department are very lucky to have a person of Camie McNeil’s caliber,” the chief said. “She is an outstanding detective, a top-notch investigator and a great person.”