BEVERLY — Mayor Mike Cahill has reappointed police Chief John LeLacheur to a new five-year term, subject to City Council approval.
LeLacheur has been the police chief since 2013 and has more than a year left on his current contract, but Cahill said he wants to extend his term now to provide "certainty" in the department.
"He's really done a great job as a leader for the department and in the community," Cahill said.
LeLacheur, 57, was hired by former Mayor Bill Scanlon in November 2013. LeLacheur had just retired as a New Hampshire state police captain and was believed to be the first person from outside the Beverly Police Department to be named chief.
LeLacheur's reappointment would come at a time when the city is building a long-awaited new police station. Construction has begun on the $28 million station on city-owned land in the parking lot of Cummings Center on Elliott Street.
Cahill said the department continues to make strides under LeLacheur. He said the chief has been a strong presence in the community and is working toward gaining accreditation for the department. The department has 68 full-time officers, up to 17 reserve officers, four civilian employees, and a $7.8 million annual budget.
"The trend is positive," Cahill said. "I believe strongly he's the right person to have leading our department and serving in the community. He does a lot of community outreach work. He's very visible and very responsive."
LeLacheur said Cahill approached him about staying on the job and he quickly agreed.
"I think we're making really good progress here," the chief said. "We're getting ready to transition to a new building. I really, really enjoy the job and I'm glad for the opportunity to stay on."
LeLacheur said the department has updated policies and equipment during his tenure. It has purchased new cruisers and new computers, equipped officers with Tasers and patrol rifles, and increased training, particularly in the area of mental health, he said. The department's community impact unit, whose duties include following up on drug overdoses, working with the homeless and dealing with neighborhood disputes, has done an "absolutely incredible job," he said.
"They're able to spend time on things that your average patrolman doesn't have time to do," LeLacheur said. "If a police officer gets a call to a neighbor dispute, he can only go for a certain period of time. The community impact unit may spend a day there. They hold monthly coffees in certain neighborhoods."
LeLacheur said the new police station, which is scheduled to open in the middle of 2021, will make a big difference. Officers work out of several locations in the city because the current station next to City Hall is so small.
"It's going to be tremendous," he said. "We're broken up all over the city and it's going to be nice to have everyone in one building and be able to consolidate operations."
Cahill said LeLacheur is respected in local law enforcement circles and has an active role with the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, which coordinates the sharing of resources among local police departments.
LeLacheur did come under criticism last July in a ruling by the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, which said he bypassed a more qualified candidate to hire relatives and friends of current officers as reserve officers. LeLacheur said at the time that he disagreed with the commission but would abide by its order to place the bypassed candidate's name at the top of the list for future reserve police officer openings.
LeLacheur would make $151,220 in total compensation in the first year of his new contract, an increase from $147,533. His salary for subsequent years would be negotiated between him and the mayor. The contract would run from Jan. 22, 2020, through Jan. 21, 2025.
City Council President Paul Guanci said there are some questions about why the proposed contract is for five years rather than two or three years. But he said he expects the council to approve LeLacheur's reappointment.
"I think the chief has done a really good job," Guanci said. "He's really visible in the community. He has a presence here in the city."
LeLacheur has an annual pension of $92,109 from his 29-year New Hampshire state police career, according to New Hampshire Retirement System records. In 1999, he was awarded the New Hampshire State Police medal of valor for pulling a fellow officer to safety after his cruiser had been hit by rifle fire.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.