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Ouellette appointed chief of police
By William Henderson
Thursday, January 13, 2005

Newly-minted Police Chief Neil Ouellette has big plans for the department, including streamlining services, offering computerized incident reporting and cutting through political red tape so his officers have what they need.

Ouellette has been dreaming of becoming a police chief most of his life, he said Tuesday afternoon. This dream fueled his swift ascension through the policing ranks and guided most of his career choices.

After months of speculation as to who would follow in retiring Police Chief Stuart Chase's footsteps (see related story), Town Manager Wayne Marquis announced Tuesday he had chosen to promote Ouellette, the department's current captain, effective this Saturday, Jan. 15.

That means, finally, Ouellette's dreams are coming true.

"Neil's an outstanding individual," Marquis said. "He has the highest personal ethics and standards and is quite energized to begin his tenure as chief."

Ouellette's energy is infectious. Even before officially taking the helm, Ouellette was working on plans to reorganize his command staff, including promotions that his appointment makes possible. Marquis calls this the "domino effect" of promoting from within a department.

Another thing Ouellette has going for him, Marquis added, is Chief Chase.

"It's fortunate that Neil could work with Stu and learn from him," Marquis said. "It was valuable training, I'm sure."

Ouellette, in a separate interview, agreed.

"I've gotten a lot of hands-on experience from being able to work with Stu," Ouellette said. "He's helped me prepare for this job, and I'm confident I'll do the best job I possibly can for this community."

Chase said similar things about Ouellette last week, citing Ouellette's dedication and commitment as two of his strongest assets.

As chief, Ouellette plans to prioritize drug enforcement, in response to what Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett recently identified as the North Shore's growing heroin problem. Ouellette also wants to perform more drug education outreach.

"I see good kids, students and athletes from good families, who get hooked after trying it once or twice," Ouellette said. "We need to attack the problem and remedy it."

He also wants to install a computer inside the police station for residents to use when reporting automobile accidents or when filing incident reports.

Ouellette's Danvers career began in 1983 as a provisional police officer. Between 1983 and his 1987 appointment as patrol officer, he worked for the Boxford Police Department. In 1993, Ouellette became a sergeant; in 1999, he became a lieutenant, and in 2003, he became the department's captain and executive officer.

He received his bachelor's degree in law enforcement from Salem State College in 1991 and a master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in 1997. He is also an adjunct faculty member at both North Shore Community College and Endicott College, where he teaches criminal justice.

No matter the rank he's obtained, or the degrees, Ouellette makes on thing clear - doing his job, and doing it well, is not a science; it's a mix of dedication and devotion, a blending of dream and desire.

"It seems like only yesterday that I started here, which means I know I can leave a mark on the department," Ouellette said. "The promotion, it's about the department and making their job easier. It's about keeping the public safe. The promotion, it's not really about me, you know."
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