A mountain lion has been sighted in Winchester. A resident reported seeing a mountain lion in the Dunster Lane, Pepper Hill Drive neighborhood off of Ridge Street. Massachusetts Environmental Police responded and viewed the animal’s paw print and stated the tracks strongly resembled that of a mountain lion. Photos of the tracks were sent to Mass […]
6/1/2011 – Excuse our appearance. The History portion of the website is under maintenance.
On April 13, 1644, William Learned was chosen as the first Constable for the Town of Woburn (of which Winchester was a part). In addition to his duties of keeping the peace, Constable Learned collected taxes. He also collected fines for
such things as persons being absent from a public meeting without a lawful excuse or being late for the annual election. In addition to Constables, the selectmen appointed “Tithingmen” to have oversight of their neighbors and see that they keep good order in their houses. The title meant tenth men, from each having a company of ten families to look after. In 1691, the selectmen chose Edward Converse as Tithingmen for “ye South End” (now Winchester).
In 1850 the Town of Winchester separated from Woburn. At the town meeting in March of that year, two Constables were elected. These Constables were also commissioned as Police Officers by the Selectmen and were the only police force of the town. They had no police station and no regular hours of duty. They were paid $10 per year.
By 1874, the number of police officers had risen to seven. Those who served for a complete year were paid $100. The officers elected one of their own—F. H. Johnson—as the first Police Chief. In 1878, the selectmen began the appointment of an official Chief of Police. Zanoni A. Richardson was the first to carry the official title, and C. H. Dupee was his successor.
In 1882, a nightduty policeman was commissioned for the first time. In a few years, there were two night officers, while the Chief alone was on day duty. The Chief was now paid $500 per year. Uniforms appeared and were worn by regular officers starting around this time. In addition to a full-time police officer, the practice of appointing “special officers” began. These officers served without pay but were called in for emergency duties such as quelling disturbances. They were nicknamed the “Fourth of July Cops” due to the customary duty of being hired on Independence Day.
In 1897, William R. MacIntosh succeeded J. Winslow Richardson as Chief. Mr. MacIntosh, who had been Chief of Police of Woburn, was the first professional police officer in Winchester. He devoted his life to law enforcement and had no other business or employment.
In 1913, the officers were granted one day off in every 30. Previously, they had been accustomed to working year-round without a day off except for an annual two-week vacation. Also in 1913, steps were taken to provide a new station house. It was erected on Mt. Vernon Street (where it stands today) and was designed by Edward R. Wait. At the time of occupancy on June 10, 1915, the police station/fire station was visited by admiring throngs of police and fire officials from all over New England.
Through the 1950s and 1960s the Winchester Police Department saw the creation of a detective division and the juvenile officer position as well as the introduction of more extensive training and education for the patrol officers. Winchester was also one of the eight founding communities of NEMLEC (North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council), which formed in 1963. In the 1970s and 1980s, specialized training became utilized. The police union came into existence, and the department began to more fully transform into what it is today.
On May 1, 1989, Joseph N. Perritano became Chief of Police. A graduate of Northeastern University, Perritano was a 25-year veteran of the department when he was appointed Chief. During Chief Perritano’s first year in office, four positions were cut along with 50 thousand dollars in overtime. The following year, two more positions were cut. These cuts resulted in the laying off of two regular officers. This was the first time in history of the department that officers had to be laid off. Through attrition, those officers were back within a year. Despite the cuts, Chief Perritano went ahead with the DARE program, believing that the program was worth its cost—taking an officer from regular police duties and placing him in the schools.
In September of 1992, the Department became computerized thanks to the assistance of then-Lieutenant Kenneth Albertelli, Selectman Peter Van Aken, Chief Philip Mahoney of Woburn, and the cooperation of the entire Winchester Police Department. No clerical staff was added because the officers immediately began inputting their own information and reports. In 1998, laptops were installed in the patrol vehicles which enabled officers to do reports in the field and obtain other police information without going through dispatch. Also in the 1990s, the philosophy of Community Policing, a mountain bike patrol unit, and a special operations/tactical unit were introduced. As a result of the many school shootings in the 1990s, NEMLEC joined the national effort to curb the growing number of violent incidents in schools. The School Threat Assessment and Response System (STARS) was created. Each member community of NEMLEC was to train a STARS officer. For Winchester, that officer was Sgt. Daniel Perenick.
Out of the STARS program came the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in 2001. The SRO receives specialized training from the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and serves as the police department’s liaison to public school students, staff, and parents. The philosophy of the SRO is that of an old-time beat officer—the SRO must get to know the members of the school community ranging from students, the school administration, teachers, and parents to local residents and business owners who are affected by the schools’ operation.
On July 1, 2006, Kenneth C. Albertelli became Chief of Police. His leadership has been met with significant new challenges, not the least of which are extensive personnel shifting and the growing demand for technological modernization. In response to the significant number of retiring officers, Chief Albertelli put personnel developments such as hiring, promotion, and general departmental renewal at the forefront of his agenda.
The department’s method of administration was significantly changed by the establishment of the “Lieutenant-In-Charge of Operations” position. Along with his standard police duties, the Lieutenant-In-Charge serves as the chief’s administrative assistant and plays a key role in implementing the chief’s proposed policies. Further, the detective bureau underwent a renewal of both personnel and equipment. It now takes fuller advantage of modern technology and relies more on statistical crime analysis. This renewal has led to a dramatic improvement in the accountability, efficiency, and responsiveness of the detective bureau.
In addition to handling significant personnel changes, Chief Albertelli budgeted for, initiated, and supervised the technological development of the police department from the bottom up. Utilizing the expertise of Sgt. Daniel O’Connell, the police department made remarkable technological advancements in just a few years. The department executed a transition from an old-fashioned mainframe-driven system to PCs, installed all-new computer wiring in the station, and fully switched to a new Windows server environment as of 2007. The department also now runs and maintains its own network of nearly 50 PCs. The cruiser laptops were upgraded to have the capability of accessing all of the material available on computers within the department building. Among other things, these upgrades provided new levels of accessibility in the field by connecting officers to the department of corrections, warrants, and the sex offender registry from their patrol vehicles. Further, firewall protection, file backups, and other failsafe systems were established and refined.
In July 2006, under the leadership of Chief Albertelli and the supervision of Lt. Peter MacDonnell, the Winchester Police Department began the involved process of earning state accreditation. The department earned state certification in October 2008 and achieved full accreditation in November 2009. Of over 360 police organizations in Massachusetts, Winchester’s is among the few (less than 10%) with the distinction of state accreditation. The State Accreditation Commission recognizes the Winchester Police Department’s adherence to policies and procedures which reflect the highest standards of law enforcement. A state review is conducted every 3 years, and maintaining the accreditation requires a constant effort from every employee of the department.
The Winchester Police Department strives to continue providing efficiency of service with the utmost professionalism and integrity. We are well into our third century of law enforcementand look to the future enthusiastically.