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NEWTON - Police Chief John O'Brien will retire at the end of the year, ending more than three decades of public safety service in Newton. His last day will be Jan. 2, 2009.

O'Brien, who will turn 60 in February, has been police chief for about four years. He joined the force 35 years ago and says the experience has been incredible.

"If I had to do it all over again, I'd do the exact same thing," he said. "The best thing that's happened to me here was becoming chief. I've been lucky. I made rank pretty fast."

O'Brien cited the parking garage murder of Edward Schiller on Rte. 9 in 2006 as the worst crime he saw in his 35 years. "That was awful," he said.

Jeremy Solomon, spokesman for Mayor David Cohen, said, "Mayor Cohen is grateful for Chief O'Brien's years of service. Under his stewardship, the Newton Police Department has upheld its long tradition of providing the highest level of public safety and community outreach. We thank him for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Newton has been named America's safest city twice while O'Brien has been chief.

O'Brien said he's retiring because of his upcoming birthday.

"I'd like to have a few good years to enjoy it. I plan on becoming a beach bum. I'm moving to Florida and doing absolutely nothing," he said.

A search committee has been formed. It will hold its first meeting Friday, Solomon said.
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