New Chief of Police Getting a Head Start

Special Tribute 

John C. Fisher will be Bedford’s new Police Chief starting next week. Courtesy Image (c) all rights reserved

Bedford’s new chief of police officially takes the reins next week. But he told the Select Board on Monday that he is already hard at work reviewing financial information.

John C. Fisher, current police chief in Carlisle, said he is planning for immediate visibility. 

“I want to show my investment in the position and the importance of the job. Being able to participate and go to things is very important,” he said

Town Manager Sarah Stanton hired Fisher, and the Select Board confirmed the appointment on Monday. The process is defined in the town charter.

The position has been vacant since the retirement of Chief Robert Bongiorno at the end of February. Retired Boston Police Capt. Kenneth Fong has been serving as interim chief.

Fisher said he has known Fong, a resident of Carlisle, for some time. He said right after Stanton told him he had the job, he asked Fong for public documents to review, such as the departmental budget and purchasing records.

“This last month has flown by,” he said. “I’m trying to learn about Bedford and the way people think here and plan here.”

Stanton introduced Fisher at the meeting, thanking the interview committee. She said the new chief has supervised the department in Carlisle since 2011 after some 20 years with the Nashua, NH, Police Department.

“I feel he is already working part-time – he is talking with interim Chief Fong all the time,” she said.

Select Board member Ed Pierce asked Fisher how he envisions his first 90 days as Bedford chief. There are no obvious issues, he replied, and he expects to “spend significant time with everyone at the department, to be at the spot where they are.” By riding in a patrol car, “I may learn a little bit more about you and the way you think than by talking across a table.”

Asked by member Shawn Hanegan to describe his philosophy of restorative justice, Fisher said, “A big piece of that is my interest in working with young people,” some of whom at times “need a break, a different direction.”

“Restorative justice is a philosophy which I embrace,” he stated. “Specifically in our area, they do fantastic work. The model is evolving and improving. I want more for our young people. This is a really good way to get more from their upsides.”

In response to a question from Hanegan, Fisher noted that “Carlisle was one of the lowest paid police departments when I got there. Over the course of that decade, I got the contract up to be competitive” with counterparts in the area. Subsequently, there was no turnover, he said.

Fisher highlighted his regional involvement, including one of the control chiefs for the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC). Board member Margot Fleischman pointed out that Fisher is a member of the council of police chiefs that works with Communities for Restorative Justice.

“This profession has changed more in the past five years than in my first 25 years,” Fisher told the Select Board, and “keeping an eye on what everyone’s best practices are is important.”

Fisher is the third consecutive police chief to come from a neighboring department. Bongiorno was a lieutenant in Arlington when he came to Bedford in the summer of 2011. Ten years earlier, the town hired Waltham Lt. James Hicks as chief. Hicks is now chief of police in Natick.

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