By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — Residents and selectmen were formally introduced Monday to the town manager’s selection to lead Andover’s police department, a man who the state counts on to inspect other police departments.
Andover Police Sgt. Pat Keefe was appointed to be the town’s next police chief at a Board of Selectmen meeting last night. The appointment, made by Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski, will be voted on at the board’s next meeting, scheduled for Monday, March 4.
Keefe will take over for current Chief Brian Pattullo, who will retire July 31 and begin working in the private sector.
Pattullo has been on the force for 32 years, including 15 at the head seat of the department. Keefe has been with the department for 15 years, hired months after Pattullo was promoted to chief.
A 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Keefe has served in campaigns in Bosnia and, most recently, in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Stapczynski.
Keefe is also a 15-year member of the Mass. National Guard, where he is currently a lieutenant colonel. Officials “are very, very supportive of him, and they have him marked for higher office, or higher rank, in the National Guard,” Stapczynski said.
Keefe is also a police department accreditation assessor in the state, where he is responsible for inspecting other departments and ensuring policies, procedures, rules and regulations are in compliance with state guidelines, according to Stapczynski.
“It’s great to go into other departments and see how they handle business,” Keefe said. “You can take what you believe is a good idea and avoid what’s bad. It kind of opens your eyes to different things, different solutions to problems.”
While Monday’s meeting was a moment for Stapczynski to introduce Keefe, news of Pattullo’s retirement attracted just as much attention.
Both Keefe and members of the board praised the current condition of the department, crediting Pattullo for its fiscal strength and strong morale.
“I’m a patrol supervisor right now. I deal with a lot of patrolmen,” Keefe said. “They want to be there. That makes our job very easy. It starts at the top, with the chief, and all the way down to the newest hire.”
“They really love coming to work,” he added. “Definitely makes our job easier, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Cyr Circle resident Mary Carbone, who frequently criticizes town officials for their handling of town business, spoke warmly of the outgoing chief.
“I’ve known Brian, Chief Pattullo, since I actually moved to Andover. It’s always a comforting feeling to know when something is wrong that you can pick up the phone to call. To me, that’s a blessing,” she said. “I’m sorry to see Chief Pattullo stepping down, but I know you won’t be far away.”
In the months ahead, the current and future chiefs — pending Board of Selectmen approval next Monday — will work together to create a smooth transition in leadership.
The town’s ongoing process regarding budget development and capital improvement projects, both of which are in flux ahead of Annual Town Meeting, will also help attune Keefe to department leadership, according to Pattullo.
“The timing is great,” he said.
But there are other things — inside baseball information on local law enforcement — that Keefe needs to be brought in on as well.
“As I’ve told him, he’s lucky there are some things he doesn’t know, [but] he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” Pattullo said. “There’s going to be some long sit-downs in the transition.”