To the editor: 

After 33 years of the most selfless and dedicated service to the good citizens of Salem, police Chief Mary Butler is retiring soon and she will be sorely missed. Chief Butler was groomed 30-plus years ago by one of the most honest, decent and true chiefs this department will ever see, Robert M. St Pierre. She was his assistant for many years and brought forward all these years later not only all the knowledge and leadership skills she learned but also the compassion and dedication to the job.

Chief Butler did not have an easy transition when she was appointed, as there were several issues that needed her immediate attention, including a very low morale department-wide and a profound budget deficit. Chief Butler worked hard to correct these over the next few years while dealing with several disciplinary situations internally, some of which were devastating to the department and her personally. Yet she persevered. Many leaders I have met over the 25 years in the military and 30 in the department would never have fared as well. That I’m sure of.

Working alongside Mayor Kim Driscoll, Chief Butler made major strides in the challenges she was confronted with over the past five years. Kudos to Mayor Driscoll for her support to the chief and the department, as it seemed we struggled through drama and tragedy during some of those difficult times. As we all know police everywhere are under the utmost scrutiny, some of it much deserved, some not so much. We can be our own worst enemy sometimes but Chief Butler worked tirelessly with the citizens to bring about fair and impartial resolutions to all. The job has changed dramatically and will continue to change and Chief Butler has given it her all as the leader of the department. She has worked tirelessly while tending the department. I can personally attest to late-night hours, constant weekend pop ins, and endless meetings and projects with city organizations.

In closing, the members of the Salem Police Department and the citizens of Salem have been very fortunate to have Chief Mary Butler as their leader. Again, her decency, compassion and leadership will be sorely missed. Best of luck to her as she transitions to the Peabody Essex Museum director of security.

Lieutenant James Walker, retired

Past President

Salem Police Superior Officers Association

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