By Bill Kirk
---- — ANDOVER — Surrounded by colleagues, friends and family members, Police Chief Brian Pattullo said his good-byes yesterday - his last day at the helm of a department he has run for 15 years.
“This is bittersweet,” said Pattullo, 55. “But I’m excited about leaving, and the department is in great hands.”
Nearly 100 people gathered on the third floor of the police/fire station on North Main Street for a breakfast reception. A more formal, private retirement party was scheduled for tonight.
Pattullo’s assistant, Lisbeth Menard, teared up briefly as she presented the chief with a couple of presents, including a portrait drawn by the department’s sketch artist and a card signed by everyone in the department.
“I’m very sad to see him go,” Menard said. “He was a great boss. We were all part of a team. He never made you feel like an employee.”
Pattullo, addressing the crowd, said he didn’t do it alone.
“Looking back over the last 32 years with the department and the last 15 as chief, I couldn’t do it without everyone here,” he said, specifically mentioning Lt. James Hashem, the number-two officer in the department. “I hired 78 people since taking over as chief, which is a lot of people. This job has touched me in many ways.”
He noted that many retirees had come to the reception. “We have a lot of memories,” he said.
He also thanked his partner of 19 years, Ray Brown, and his mother, Beatrice, who was sitting in a chair. He gave her a kiss on the cheek.
He also thanked several others in attendance, including former North Andover Police Chief Richard Stanley, retired Andover Chief James Johnson and former interim Police Chief Richard Enos, among others.
Then Pattullo took off his chief’s badge and pinned it on the lapel of Sgt. Patrick Keefe, who is taking over the job today.
“You take this,” he told Keefe. “I’m done. Good luck.”
Pattullo is taking a job as Chief Operating Officer of a private security firm in Boston. He will retire with a full pension, based roughly on 80 percent of his $154,000 salary, as well as a lump-sum payment of more than $100,000 in sick time and vacation pay.
Keefe was sworn as Pattullo’s replacement by Town Clerk Larry Murphy. A ceremonial swearing-in will take place next week. He was slated to start at a salary of more than $130,000 a year.
“This is a big transition,” said Keefe, who was chosen by Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski and approved by the Board of Selectmen. “What he’s done in the last 15 years as chief, he moved the department into the 21st century. He had a progressive style of leadership. He will be missed.”
Keefe said he hoped to carry on in Pattullo’s footsteps.
“I will continue with his vision and keep that progressive style,” Keefe said. “Cutting-edge technology and law enforcement, professionalism and community outreach, and making sure we’re out there and transparent.”
Fire Chief Michael Mansfield said Pattullo made him feel very comfortable when he came in as chief from the Nashua department six years ago.
“He was phenomenal to work with,” Mansfield said. “When I first got here, he was very open. He greeted me with open arms.”
Selectman Paul Salafia said he was also sorry to see Pattullo go.
“You worry about a lot of departments,” he said. “I never worried about the police. It’s a buttoned-down department.”
He noted that “every department has issues” but that Pattullo solved problems “methodically, whether it was a personnel or policy matter. Whatever it was, he solved it with professionalism, and that builds confidence.”
Whenever Selectmen heard about a problem, he said, “we saw how it was solved and it was done before it ever reached us. I loved the way he handled the department.”
Lt. Edward Guy agreed Pattullo would be missed.
“Brian was a guy who cared about his people,” he said. “He always had an open-door policy. If there was ever a personnel or personal issue, he’d sit down and talk about it and come up with a solution. He’s a caring guy.”
Lt. Guy, who transferred from Methuen nine years ago to the Andover department, worked with Pattullo closely on getting the department accredited, and was given the position of accreditation manager.
“He put me in different positions to succeed,” Guy said.
Pattullo’s mother Beatrice, 81, said she was proud of all four of her sons, two of whom became police officers and another who is still with the Andover Fire Department.
She said she never worried about her children or her late husband, Clifford, even though they were in public safety jobs.
“They never tell me too much,” she said. “They’ve been good sons, all four of them.”
She said she was excited for Brian’s new opportunity.
“It was about time for him to move,” she said. “This will be something different to keep him out of trouble.”
Pattullo’s partner, Ray Brown, agreed that “change is good. He’s ready to move on to new adventures in his life.”
Brown, who owns an Ipswich hair salon, said he was always treated respectfully by the officers in the department.
“They don’t have an issue with our lifestyle,” he said. “It all boils down to doing a great job. Your personal life is your personal life.”
He said while he thinks Pattullo will be busy in his new job, he may be able to help take care of the two new puppies they just got.
“They are English golden retrievers,” he said. “It’s like having two new babies.”