SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 10, 2014

Public safety celebrates hires, promotions

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The town celebrated the recent appointments and promotions of 11 police officers and four firefighters with a large swearing-in ceremony at Danvers High School last night, an event that drew more than 100 family members and well-wishers.

The ceremony swore in five rookies to the Police Department and two to the Fire Department. Two promotions were made in the upper ranks of the Fire Department, and six police officers climbed the ranks, with the elevation of three new sergeants and three new lieutenants.

Those on hand last night included Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, the nephew of recently promoted Lt. Robert Bettencourt.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis spoke of the sacrifices families made to allow these appointments and hires to happen.

“They would tell you they couldn’t have done it alone,” Marquis said. “They needed your support, and I’m sure they have thanked you, and I want to thank your for that support, because it’s quite a commitment,” Marquis said.

“How about a round of applause for you,” Marquis said, and the audience obliged.

Police Chief Neil Ouellette said five patrol officers were appointed last night, and the department is in the process of filling five more positions.

The five new patrol officers sworn in by Town Clerk Joseph Collins were: Stephanie Wennerberg, Michael Balsley, Christopher Gaffney, Michael Molk and Justin Jones.

Those promoted to lieutenant in the police department were James “Jamie” Lovell, Bettencourt and William Carleton. Philip Tansey was promoted to detective sergeant from patrol officer, and Olivia Silva and Peter Shabowich were both promoted to sergeant from patrol officer.

The Fire Department saw two firefighters sworn in, Stephen Deroche and John Mendalka, and two promotions, Lt. Brian Barry, who was promoted from firefighter, and Capt. Kenneth Reardon, who was promoted from lieutenant. Barry serves as president of the firefighter’s union and is a leader in the department, fire Chief Kevin Farrell said. Reardon serves as a member of Essex County Technical Rescue Team, and he helped with a recent trench rescue at an Ipswich construction site in November, Farrell said.

By coincidence, Farrell said both Deroche and Mendalka served as captains of Danvers High hockey teams. Deroche graduated in 2009 and joined the Air Force in 2010, working as a firefighter/EMT at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Deroche is following in his father’s footsteps; Ed Deroche became a Danvers firefighter in 2000, Farrell said.

Mendalka, a 2005 Danvers High graduate, served on the Middleton Fire Department from 2006 to 2008. He joined the Air Force in 2008 and served three tours, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in North America, serving in the security forces. Both joined the Fire Department in August.

The Police Department is seeing a spate of retirements. Twenty officers were hired at once about 30 years ago, and they are approaching retirement age, Ouellette said. Injuries, illnesses and retirements have put a strain on the department in recent years.

“I have to tell you, I’m very excited tonight,” Ouellette said. “This department, we have five brand-new police officers.” The officers have joined the department at staggered intervals over the past year as they attended a 23-week police academy program.

“I am so happy with the group of people we have,” Ouellette said. “They are good people, they come from good families, and we have watched them grow up here. They have really done a remarkable job so far in the department.”

Balsley started as a reserve officer in Newbury and Topsfield and was employed by the Topsfield Police Department.

Gaffney grew up in town, was a hockey player, served in the Coast Guard in Kodiak, Alaska, and Cape Cod Station, Ouellette said. Jones also grew up in town and attended Salem State University. Molk, another Danvers resident, studied accounting at Assumption College and went to the Worcester police academy. Wennerberg, a 2007 graduate of Danvers High and later a Salem State University criminal justice graduate, attended the police academy in Reading. Wennerberg said she has wanted to be a police officer since she was 14 years old.

“She’s the newest addition to our police force, she graduated in August, and she, too, has done an exceptional job,” Ouellette said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.