NORTH ANDOVER - Police Chief Richard Stanley has agreed in principle to become the next full-time police chief in Wareham on Cape Cod, where he has worked as part-time interim chief since last summer.

The announcement was made last night at a Wareham Board of Selectmen meeting by Stanley and Wareham Town Administrator and former Lawrence finance director Mark Andrews.

Contacted after the meeting, Stanley said the news represents just the first step in his departure from North Andover, where he has been chief since 1986.

He has split his time between North Andover and Wareham since August 2009.

Stanley, 54, said he has only agreed to begin negotiating a full-time contract with Wareham. Any transfer must be approved by both Andrews and North Andover selectmen, he said.

Stanley also said he has unfinished business as North Andover's police chief.

"I want to show respect and not put the wagon before the horse," said Stanley. "I was clear to them. I need to accomplish a final couple of goals. I'm not leaving anything in the works."

Stanley said he has been considering taking on the full-time Wareham job for several months, after Wareham selectmen approached him with the idea.

But he said he will not leave North Andover until the town's police department receives a state law enforcement accreditation, which it is scheduled to do in May, becoming one of less than 30 departments in Massachusetts to earn the distinction.

Stanley said he also will not leave North Andover until the town's police station is moved from Main Street to Osgood Street. Plans are set to make the move over the summer, he said.

After those two goals are accomplished, Stanley said he feels he will have completed his commitment to the town. Contacted last night, Selectmen Chairwoman Tracy Watson said she was not surprised about Stanley's potential departure later this year. She said the board expected that he might leave North Andover for Wareham in the fall. In November 2009, North Andover Selectmen reinforced their initial approval of Stanley's dual role as chief in both towns, but reserved the right to review the work arrangement every 60 days.

Stanley works four days a week in North Andover and uses a vacation day every Friday to work in Wareham, where he also works during weekends. He makes the 80-mile trip to and from the Cape in a Wareham-issued vehicle, and also resigned from his role as control chief with the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council to free up more time for the Wareham job.

When Stanley announced that he would take on both jobs last year, he made it very clear that he had no intentions of becoming Wareham's full-time police chief.

"Am I interested? Clearly no," Stanley said in August 2009. "I am not a candidate nor do I intend to be a candidate. I have the best job in the world as police chief of North Andover. I intend to retire here."

What changed his mind, Stanley said last night, was his positive reception in Wareham and the progress the police department has made since he became interim chief.

When he arrived, Stanley said the Wareham Police Department had problems with morale, training, equipment and community relations.

"The staff here is extremely dedicated and supportive of the changes we've put in place since my arrival," said Stanley. "We were able to fix all that."

If he leaves North Andover, Stanley said he will be leaving behind a well-trained staff.

"There's a leadership team behind me ready to step forward and take the department into the future," said Stanley. "There's people who are ready to stand up to the challenge."

Watson agreed that the department is well-positioned for the future. She said Stanley's role in both towns has given others in the department a chance to take on added leadership.

"Promoting from within is something we're always looking to do," said Watson. "This has given us the opportunity to look at command staff below Chief Stanley."

Stanley was appointed as a police officer in North Andover in 1977.

In 2008, Stanley made $132,546, with stipends, in North Andover. He said he has already reached the maximum threshold for retirement benefits under state guidelines.

"I have no interest in retiring now," he said.

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