SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 13, 2013

Our view: A choice for change in Beverly

It got lost a bit in the tumult over last week’s election, but the city of Beverly was introduced to a police chief candidate who, if approved by the City Council, has the opportunity to help move the police department into a new era of accountability, openness and trust.

Outgoing Mayor Bill Scanlon last week named John LeLacheur, a recently retired New Hampshire State Police captain, to replace the retiring Mark Ray, who had led the department since 2007.

LeLacheur, 51, is a Manchester, N.H., resident who grew up in Lowell. Over the course of nearly three decades with the New Hampshire State Police, LeLacheur has been a member and commander of the state police honor guard and developed a special events response team. He has been a drill instructor at the New Hampshire Police Academy and has taught leadership and media relations at the New England State Police Administrative Conference.

In 1999, he was awarded his organization’s Medal of Valor for pulling a fellow officer to safety after his cruiser had been hit by rifle fire.

“This man has very valid experience,” Scanlon told reporter Paul Leighton last week. “He’s got energy. He’s been part of an organization (that) has done good work.”

It is significant that Scanlon went outside the city in seeking a replacement for Ray, who retired in September. If confirmed by the City Council, LeLacheur, who was chosen from a field of more than two dozen applicants, would be the first police chief from outside the department in recent memory, perhaps ever.

Scanlon said Christopher Negrotti, who served as interim chief and eventually decided not to pursue the permanent job, told him an outside view was needed.

“After a time, (Negrotti) came to me and said, ‘There are just too many problems here. We’ve got to get an outside influence.’ And, frankly, I was pretty much of that viewpoint myself,” Scanlon told reporter Paul Leighton last week.

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