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New police chief sworn in
By Cathryn Keefe O'Hare/ [email protected]
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Police Chief Neil Ouellette looked like the happiest man in the world at his swearing-in ceremony last Thursday in the Daniel J. Toomey Hearing Room at Town Hall.

And, he was.

"I'm still pinching myself," he told his many friends and colleagues who gathered in every seat and all around the room to congratulate him.

Ouellette started in Danvers as a reserve officer in 1983, then as regular police officer in February 1987. He steadily worked his way up through the ranks, winning his new job as chief effective Jan. 16, after former Chief Stuart Chase retired.

It was a dream come true - one he had dreamed as a little boy, he said in an earlier interview.

"I really have to be here 10 years," the new chief joked, to the enjoyment of the crowd, and in reference to Chase's short, three-year tenure.

On a more serious note, he talked about serving the community. He talked about "big changes" and some "little changes." He talked about his love of police work and the fact that he has absolutely no regrets about his career choice.

"It really intrigues me," he said about his work.

Ouellette's mother, Marquerite, sat in the front row, a petite woman whose pride and pleasure in her son beamed on her face. She was joined by his wife, Jane Ouellette, his daughter, Emily, 11, and Priscilla and Marlin Sload, Jane's parents.

"He's been working now more than ever," said Jane Ouellette about her husband, but she didn't say it with any rancor, enjoying with her husband the fulfillment of his dream.

"I couldn't have done this without my wife," Ouellette said. His voice cracked with emotion then, and the crowd applauded as he gathered his thoughts. He thanked the other members of his family, even his absent son, Andrew, "who is floating around the Caribbean on my dollar," Ouellette joked.

Andrew, 18, is a freshman at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and must spend time on board ship as part of his course, so his father's remark truly was a joke, masking his pride.

"Am I a lucky guy to have the opportunity to appoint him?" Town Manager Wayne Marquis asked rhetorically after the ceremony.

He had already made a formal speech to the crowd, introducing the new chief. Then he had talked about a new beginning in the department and praised Ouellette for his loyalty and willingness to work hard.

"I regard him as a person of vision," Marquis told the assembled crowd, and he commended Ouellette for his high ethical standards and his leadership.

Bernie Kerans, a former policeman, and Kerans' wife, who happens to be Ouellette's sister Maureen, were also in the crowd.

"We carted him around," Maureen Kerans joked about her little brother, who loved spending time with her and his brother-in-law.

"He thought being a policeman would be interesting," said Bernie Kerans, reminiscing about the younger man's fascination with the job.

"He's also a good cop," Kerans added about Ouellette's continued commitment through the years. "He's still out there looking for the bad guys."

And such comments were the consensus among the people who came together for Ouellette's swearing-in.
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