By Dustin Luca
---- — The next Andover police chief has deployed to Bosnia and Iraq with the U.S. Army, investigated major crimes in town as a detective and inspected other police departments for the state.
Police Sgt. Pat Keefe was appointed by Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski at a selectmen meeting Monday to replace outgoing Chief Brian Pattullo, who will retire July 31 after 32 years of service to the town. The board will vote to officially approve the appointment Monday, March 4.
The town considered only current police department members, and Keefe was one of five internal candidates who originally expressed interest in leading Andover's force. Of those five, one didn't apply and a second dropped out of the running prior to the beginning of an $15,000 assessment-center process that throws difficult scenarios at the candidates to see how they react.
Keefe said felt the position would "be interesting, but challenging too."
"I've always wanted to finish my career off as chief or commander of a department," he said.
He is an Andover resident with four children in the town schools, who said he spends most of his free time with his family.
Keefe, hired by the department as a patrolman in June 1998, is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army with deployments in Bosnia and Iraq, the latter during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He's also a 15-year member of the Mass. National Guard, where he is a lieutenant colonel and "marked for higher office, or a higher rank," Stapczynski said.
Keefe served as a detective in the Andover Police Department starting in January 2001, and was responsible for investigating major crimes including armed robberies, sexual assaults and property crimes, according to Stapczynski.
During that time, Keefe conducted background checks on new hires for both the fire and police departments, according to Stapczynski. He was promoted to sergeant in July 2009.
Keefe is also a police department accreditation assessor for the state, where he is responsible for visiting other departments and ensuring policies, procedures, rules and regulations are in compliance with state guidelines, according to Stapczynski.
"It's great to go into other departments and see how they handle business," he told selectmen. "You can take what you believe is a good idea and avoid what's bad. It kind of opens your eyes to different things, different solutions to problems."
His salary as chief is still being negotiated, according to Stapczynski.
CHIEF HAS 'MIXED FEELINGS' ON RETIRING
Pattullo will retire with a $169,600 salary, after receiving an increase from his prior pay for giving the town a year's notice of his retirement, according to Stapczynski.
So long as he serves the rest of his time without extended leave caused by a serious injury or illness, Pattullo will retire with over 120 unused sick days, of which he will be able paid for the maximum 120 days allowed by the law, Stapczynski said.
He also has enough vacation time now to take seven weeks and four days off , and he has scheduled a week off in the coming months, he said. In July, after he passes his anniversary from when he was hired in 1981, he will earn another six weeks of vacation.
The town will pay for any portion of that remaining when he retires, according to Stapczynski.
Under the pension system Pattullo can only start collecting his full pension when he is 55 or older and when he has racked up 32 years of service to the town — both of which will happen by the end of July, he said.
The terms of his pension aren't yet known, Stapczynski said. But while he collects it, he will e working full time as the chief operating officer of a Boston-based security firm that he declined to name.
While excited to begin a new chapter, Pattullo said he has "mixed feelings about moving on."
Before he decided to retire, Pattullo was working on a new three-year deal with Stapczynski which would have, over the life of the contract, paid him at a lower salary but with large portions of the sick time worked into his pay, he said. It would have saved the town money in the end, but Stapczynski wasn't interested in the offer, according to Pattullo.
Stapczynski wouldn't comment on the contract.
"After my negotiations with him, he opted not to go in that direction," Pattullo said. "At the same time, I was approached by a firm and offered a position in the private sector."
"I decided to go in that direction," he said.
Though he is leaving this summer, "I have a vested interest in the police department, the town of Andover, and its citizens," Pattullo said.
His father and one of his brothers, Don, also worked more than 32 years for the department, and Pattullo grew up in town.
CHIEFS TO WORK ON TRANSITION
Before he leaves, Pattullo will work closely with the chief-to-be to ensure the transition in power to Sgt. Keefe is a smooth one.
The town's ongoing process regarding budget development and capital-project planning are both moving forward daily as Town Meeting approaches. Because of that, Keefe will be able to watch the behind-the-scenes planning, preparing him for next year, according to Pattullo.
"The timing is great," Pattullo said to the Board of Selectmen Monday.
"As I've told him, he's lucky there are some things he doesn't know, (but) he doesn't know what he doesn't know," Pattullo said. "There's going to be some long sit-downs in the transition."