PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt hasn’t gone far afield in naming an interim police chief, appointing former Salem Chief Robert St. Pierre to step in on Nov. 18 for the retiring Robert Champagne.
St. Pierre served for 25 years as top cop in nearby Salem, retiring in 2009. He not only worked alongside his friend Champagne in Peabody, the two attended college together after both completed military service in the 1970s.
Bettencourt wants St. Pierre to run the department and to help in selecting a long-term chief.
“We have a world-class police department in Peabody, made up of a great number of outstanding law enforcement professionals,” Bettencourt said in a press release. “I believe Chief St. Pierre’s background, specifically his experience with professional evaluation and the assessment center process, will prove beneficial as we transition to a permanent police chief.”
The assessment center process, designed for choosing new leaders, is something St. Pierre has participated in multiple times in communities, including Springfield, Weymouth, North Reading and Malden.
“I’m familiar with the process,” he told the News in an interview.
Asked how long he might be willing to stay on, St. Pierre did not give a time limit. “The mayor talked about having me work into next year,” he said.
St. Pierre explained that he didn’t know Bettencourt prior to being offered the job. “I just received a call, and we talked.”
A grandfather who recently did a stint as the interim chief at Salem State University, he asked for a little time to think about the offer, then decided that, at age 65, it was appropriate “to come out of hibernation. ... It’s an opportunity to work with a bunch of really professional officers.”
He praised the Peabody department as a “very well-run, a very progressive department.” He added that Peabody residents “have come to expect a high level of police services. I’m going to work to maintain that high level.”