METHUEN — The Methuen Police Department is preparing to usher in a new administration with Monday night’s formal approval of Chief Scott McNamara.
McNamara’s confirmation comes several weeks after Mayor Neil Perry appointed him chief over Salem, New Hampshire Deputy Chief Shane Smith. A 25-year law enforcement veteran, McNamara previously served as a Lawrence Police Department captain, overseeing the department’s bureau of professional standards.
On Monday night, eight councilors voted to confirm McNamara, while Councilor Mike Simard voted “present.” Simard is a Lawrence police officer and served as a member of the interview panel that assessed candidates during the selection process, although he did not personally interview McNamara.
Receiving a standing ovation from the City Council Monday night, McNamara said he looks forward to getting right to work.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead the Methuen Police Department,” he said, as his family and others looked on. “To the citizens of Methuen, I want to say two things: This is truly the honor of my life and I won’t let you down.”
McNamara’s permanent appointment comes after the city used the services of interim chiefs — Capt. Kris McCarthy, Thomas McEnaney and Capt. Randy Haggar — to oversee the department after full-time chief Joseph Solomon retired in January.
Solomon announced his retirement in a letter to Perry roughly two weeks after he was placed on paid administrative leave as chief, a position he held for 18 years. His leave came on the heels of a scathing report released by the state Inspector General that found irregularities with a union contract which would have led to exorbitant salaries for superior officers and the chief. A police captain, Greg Gallant, was also placed on paid administrative leave due to his involvement as union president.
The report found that in 2017, then-Mayor Stephen Zanni, the City Council, Solomon and Gallant all “failed the people of Methuen.”
“This total failure of leadership by Methuen’s former mayor and City Council allowed Chief Solomon and then-Captain (Greg) Gallant to put their personal financial interests ahead of the interests of the citizens they swore an oath to protect and serve,” said Inspector General Glenn Cunha.
McNamara said he is keenly aware of the change that must take place in Methuen’s department and is up to the challenge.
“I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to lead the men and women of the Methuen Police Department as their next chief,” McNamara has said. “I recognize this is an important moment in time for the city of Methuen, a time to put the past behind us and focus our collective efforts on the promise of the future.”