Williamstown police names interim chief

Williamstown Interim Town Manager Edgar Gadbois announced the appointment on Jan. 4 of an interim chief of police to replace the current chief J. Michael Kennedy Jr. who is retiring after 38 years of service. Arthur A. Parker Jr., a 22-year veteran of law enforcement and sergeant in the Wellfleet, Mass. Police Department, will begin the six-month interim position on Jan. 18.

“I’m excited about it and I’m looking forward to serving the department in Williamstown,” he said. Parker said that he expects to apply for the position of full-time chief.

Parker, 44, is a native of Everett, Mass. Wellfleet Chief of Police Richard P. Rosenthal described him as “very knowledgeable. He has a long background in the field.”

According to Rosenthal, “he’s probably one of my most senior officers and I think the town’s getting a good chief.”

The towns, Williamstown and Wellfleet, have police departments that are similar in size. Williamstown has a population of 8,382 and 10 full-time officers while Wellfleet, which is located on Cape Cod, has a population of 2,713 that swells in the summer, and 13 full-time police officers.

At a press conference on Jan. 4, Gadbois said that he had worked with Parker while serving as interim town manager of Wellfleet from December 1997 to June 1998.

“I think he’ll be a good fit,” said Gadbois, citing “his personality and the way that he does things. He’s a communicator. He does that quite well and that’s something that’s needed at this point.

Gadbois also said that the choice of a permanent chief will be made by the permanent town manager, a position which the town hopes to have filled before their annual meeting in May. Gadbois said that when he arrived to serve as interim town manager early in December he needed to find an interim police chief quickly given Kennedy’s pending retirement.

Gadbois said that he decided not to promote someone from within the department for the interim position to avoid a potential problem if that officer were a candidate, but not chosen, for the permanent position.

Williamstown Selectmen Chairman Anne Skinner said the decision to hire the interim chief from outside the department was “Ed’s call,” but commented that his rationale was sound.

“We need to be very clear that the person who hires the permanent chief will be the permanent town manager,” Skinner said. “This guy does not have the inside track simply because he’s the interim.”

“We’re looking forward to the change,” said Jean Thorndike, director of security at Williams. “We haven’t met him yet, but we are looking forward to that happening very soon and really working to build some bridges between the college and the town police. I just have very positive feelings about his arrival and tenure as the acting chief.”

Assistant director of security David Boyer echoed Thorndike’s sentiments, commenting that, “His credentials are excellent and his experience seems to be fabulous. We are hoping that it is a good fit here and we are looking forward to a lot of interaction between the police department and the security department.”

According to his resume, Parker began his career in law enforcement at Wellfleet in 1977, moving up the ranks and becoming a sergeant in 1990. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass. and completed the requirements for a master’s degree in business administration at Anna Maria College in December.

While in Wellfleet Parker initiated several community policing programs including a public education program called the Citizens Police Academy and developed a police department newsletter.

Parker said the interim appointment signifies a personal achievement. “I’ve always been interested in a chief position,” he said. “This interim position gives me a chance to fulfill that goal.”