By Neil Fater and Dustin Luca, Staff Writers
The Andover Townsman
---- — Andover police Chief Brian Pattullo will step down on July 31 and the town manager has picked a sergeant, Patrick Keefe, to replace him.
After 32 years on the Andover force, Pattullo said it’s time to move on, and he believes he is leaving the department in good shape for the next chief. He said he will become the chief operating officer of a Boston security firm that he declined to name.
“It’s going to be good for me and I think it’s a good time to turn the reins over. There are few issues in the department, so it’s a good time. Everything kind of fell into place,” said Pattullo. “I’m looking for a challenge, I’m looking for adventure and looking for something that’s going to challenge me to use my expertise. I’m excited about it.”
When Pattullo steps down it will be the first time in at least 60 years that a member of his family has not been a member of the Andover Police Department. His father, a lieutenant, was on the force for 37 years, and his brother Det. Sgt. Don Pattullo, who became head of the detectives, served for 35 years. One of the chief’s other brothers, Cliff, remains a member of the Andover Fire Department.
Pattullo said he has informed his Andover officers that the town manager has selected Andover Sgt. Pat Keefe as his successor.
Keefe declined comment. He will be presented to the selectmen as Stapczynski’s choice this Monday, Feb. 25. Selectman must vote to approve the appointment.
“I felt the next chief has to lead in a manner in which Chief Pattullo had run over these 15 years, at the same time looking at the needs of the young department,” Stapczynski said. “I needed someone who could continue the legacy that Brian has created, and really build on it with the youthful department that we have.”
“Pat exemplifies the leadership qualities inherent in the chief of police,” said Pattullo. “He’s well respected by the men and women on the force, even-tempered, a good leader. I think his leadership qualities and abilities will shine through when he takes the reins.”
Keefe has been a member of the Andover Police Department for 15 years and is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. He has served more than one tour of duty. He lives in Andover with his wife and four children and is active in community activities such as youth sports, according to Pattullo.
The town looked only at internal candidates, and there were 11 people eligible for the job. Three internal candidates went through a process called an “assessment center” -- where an outside firm looks at what the town needs and runs the candidates through written and oral examinations -- to help the town manager decide who to name as the next chief.
“It’s a credit to the men and women of the police department that we have that talent and those people to take command,” said Pattullo.
Pattullo’s final day will be July 31. He is currently 54, but will be 55 by July.
“That gives us a really good amount of time to have a healthy transition with my successor,” Pattullo said. “It should be seamless.”
Pattullo was budgeted to make $162,781 next year, and he receives an additional $1,500 for serving as the town’s emergency management director. Keefe is still negotiating his salary, according to Stapczyski.
Pattullo was first hired by the town as a patrolman in July 1981, and his promotion to chief came in March 1998.
“He has done such a marvelous job. It’s sad to see him retire. He has the age and the years of service. Certainly, it’s his choice,” Stapczynski said.
“Brian Pattullo has been an amazing chief of police. I think the town will really miss him,” Selectman Paul Salafia said. “We’ll pick a great successor, but that guy... will have big shoes to fill.”
“I’ve known he is considering it, and I tried to talk him out of it. But it’s hard to talk him out of it because it’s his time for it,” Salafia said. “It’s a very demanding job, and being police chief takes a lot out of you. It was time for him. I think he was ready to move to something different, something he thinks will be a little more challenging for him, in a different way. It’s hard to compete with that.”
“He let Buzz know that he was intending to retire back this past summer, with the whole intent that it would give Buzz a chance to think about the process of replacing him,” Selectman Brian Major said.
Major was a new selectman when Pattullo became chief.
“He was one of the younger officers at that time. I think he was probably about 40 years old. Very well respected, had done a lot with helping to put structure together within the department,” Major said. “He instituted a lot of the things like having policemen visible downtown, putting them on bicycles, walking around downtown... It was all a sense of getting the police department visible so they could associate with people.”
There was noted turmoil in the department, with several union members pursuing grievances. That has changed.
“I work very well with the unions,” said Pattullo. “It’s about give and take. We sit down and talk things out. I’ve had very few grievances leave my office and go to the town manager.”
Asked if he has any regrets he said, “We still have a very active double murder case that we’re still working. That’s the major focus of the department. I don’t know if that’s a regret, but that’s ongoing and will continue until it’s resolved.”
Pattullo also said he wished he could have brought in more than the current 54 officers, saying he believes a town the size of Andover really needs 65 officers.