As a former chief of the Salem Police Department, I know firsthand the challenges and positive influence the role of chief can play in a community. Given the current unrest in local and national policing, this role is even more critical now than during my 25-year tenure.

The Salem Police Department has a well-earned and professional reputation due to the outstanding work of the men and women in the department who are committed and dedicated to protecting and serving the citizens of Salem. The incoming chief, Detective Lt. Lucas Miller, will assume the mantle of leadership of a highly trained and competent department.

Having sat in his seat, I wish him well as he begins his new role. I have had an opportunity to meet him and have found him to be smart, capable and ready to lead. His experience and the many high-level positions he has held at NYPD will serve him well and will bring a fresh set of ideas and approach to policing in Salem. I believe he has the requisite skills and integrity to mentor our young force, as well as our compliment of superior officers, and to help build future new leaders within the department. He understands the critical role a chief plays in mentoring his successor and takes that responsibility seriously.

It is never easy to assume a new role and incoming Chief Miller will need the help and support of all the men and women of the department and the command staff, who have performed so admirably under the direction of acting Chief Dennis King. Chief King has led the department during one of the most difficult times in the history of policing. He will be a valuable asset to our new chief and will assist him in coming to know our community and neighborhood leaders.

No police chief can be successful without having the support and confidence of the community. Salem has always been a forward-thinking city throughout our 400-year history. We are inclusive by nature and I hope residents will embrace the opportunity that an external police chief can offer our community.

Having had the opportunity to speak with Lt. Miller, I am confident that he is an open-minded individual who is progressive in thought, and attuned to the concerns of the citizens of Salem. He will dovetail nicely with a police department that has always taken pride in being on the cutting edge of technology and the best law enforcement practices.

Detective Lt. Miller is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has served in a number of different roles with the NYPD – as a community policing patrol officer, narcotics investigator, homicide supervisor and head of the city’s FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force; he brings a range of experiences to his role as Chief of the Salem Police Department. This experience will no doubt bring some fresh ideas to the Salem Police Department’s management of crowds and traffic during the Halloween season and throughout the tourist season.

I believe he values the critical role of law enforcement in a community, while also recognizing the need to modernize policing efforts. I feel confident that he is capable of working with our many and diverse community stakeholders in a professional manner and that he will build upon the current strengths of the department and further a culture of trust and accountability.

He understands the role a properly functioning police department can play in a thriving and healthy society and I am eager to see him succeed in his work here in Salem. It is now up to all of us to support and welcome our new police chief.

Robert St. Pierre is the former longtime chief of the Salem Police Department.

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