1. News

Tampa police chief strikes 'Home Alone' pose to pitch department's vacation watch program

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said it didn't take much to persuade him to strike the iconic Home Alone pose for this ad touting the department's Vacation Watch program, but it has provoked a lot of good-natured ribbing. [Tampa Police Department]
Published Dec. 22, 2017

TAMPA — It turns out Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan does a pretty good Macaulay Culkin impression.

Looking to boost the profile of the department's Vacation Watch program, city staffers suggested a public service campaign featuring a photo of Dugan cradling his face, mouth agape, to mimic 8-year-old Kevin McCallister — played by Culkin — in the iconic image from the 1990 film Home Alone.

Dugan says it didn't take much to talk him into it.

"Believe it or not, it was very easy, and I have taken a lot of grief over that picture, too," he said with a smile. "That's one that will come back to haunt me, I'm sure."

But it worked. The department has received more than 100 requests for the program since the message posted on the city's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Next Door accounts at 9 a.m. Friday, said police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor.

"Before 9:30 we already had 17 residents who registered for the free program," McGregor said.

City residents who plan to be out of town for a while can sign up to request a police officer to check on their home if time permits during a 12-hour shift.

The presence will help act as a deterrent, but if officers see signs of forced entry, they can investigate and notify the homeowner. Residents are asked to give the department at least four days' notice, if possible, but a day or two should suffice, McGregor said.

The Hillsborough and Pinellas county sheriff's offices have similar programs. The St. Petersburg Police Department does not and encourages city residents to ask neighbors to keep an eye on their home, a department spokeswoman said. Clearwater police will step up patrols near the homes of residents who are out of town.

The Tampa department has had the program for several years and wanted to spread the word on social media.

McGregor said she and Jeremy Rex, a graphic designer for the city, were kicking around ideas and thought of the Home Alone pose.

In the film, Culkin's character is inadvertently left behind when his family leaves on a holiday trip.

The pose comes from a scene where McCallister slaps on some aftershave. It's also featured in the movie poster.

They didn't really expect Dugan to agree.

"We were surprised but were also excited because we knew that his image there would definitely get more people to share it," McGregor said.

Dugan and other city employees have heard from people who have gotten a kick out of a 51-year-old bespectacled bald man who happens to be the police chief holding his face to mimic one of pop culture's most recognizable cinematic poses.

The photo also contrasts with the grim visage that city residents saw on television and in newspapers as Dugan provided updates on the string of Seminole Heights killings in October and November.

The photo shows the new chief in a different light, a guy with a serious job who apparently doesn't take himself too seriously.

"I certainly don't, but my goal was to totally fly under the radar as the chief of police and that totally got ruined," he said with a laugh.

To find out more about or sign up for Tampa Police Department's Vacation Watch program, go to

Contact Tony Marrero at or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.


  1. A sign seen on the front door of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in March, after owner Tom Woodard stopped serving drinks with plastic straws. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday night to ban single-use plastic straws. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The City Council tweaked its own ordinance banning single-use plastic straws, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
  2. Student activists with the March For Our Lives group, founded after the Feb. 2018 Parkland shooting, hold a banner that promotes their new "peace plan" to prevent gun violence, while demonstrating in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times
    The 18-year-old student director of March for Our Lives Florida said school shootings are so common they are “not shocking” anymore.
  3. Steven Currall prepares to deliver an address during his investiture as the University of South Florida's seventh president Thursday at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Though he started the job in July, Steve Currall is officially installed as president on his 137th day in office.
  4. Apollo Global Management has offered $130 per share for Tech Data's stock in an acquisition worth $5.4 billion. If regulators shareholders approve, the home-grown company will remain based in Pinellas County, where it employs 2,000 of its 14,000 workers. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Private equity firms like Apollo create wealth for pension funds, financial institutions and individual investors by buying assets that typically are sold later at a profit.
  5. Some of Tampa Bay's largest companies are being sold or are up for sale. Times files and Bloomin' Brands
    Tech Data is just the latest in a growing list of public companies bought up by out-of-state firms.
  6. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  7. The "#9pmroutine" is a core social media feature for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Now, the agency has a copyright on it. Facebook
    Copyrighting a key part of the agency’s social media presence isn’t meant to limit its reach, the office said, but rather to stop bad actors.
  8. USF student Gabriela Young is the owner of Earth and Ivory, an online jewelry business with items made out of clay.  [Special to the Times | Sarah Foster] SARAH FOSTER  |  Special to the Times | @sarahtheartiste
    Gabriela Young went from selling bracelets to friends to making clay wares for customers with her business, Earth and Ivory.
  9. Chief Veterinarian Mallory Offner examines a female rescue puppy at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    With 250 of the pooches ready for adoption, each potential puppy parent has a 1-in-4 shot at getting picked in today’s drawing.
  10. Eight vehicles were involved in a fiery and fatal crash late Wednesday that left two people dead and shut down northbound Interstate 75 bridging Hillsborough and Pasco counties, authorities said. The driver of the white van pictured above, George Pagan of Tampa, said he saw the semi-trailer truck, left, sliding sideways toward him in his rearview mirror before impact. Pasco Fire Rescue
    The chain-reaction crash that closed the northbound lanes near the Pasco-Hillsborough line started when a semi-trailer truck driver didn’t stop for traffic, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.