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Search is on for a new police chief

Waltham Police Chief Edward J. Drew is planning to retire in three weeks, fueling speculation about who Mayor Jeannette McCarthy would choose to replace him.

City personnel director Brenda Capello said Drew's last day will be July 7. She said Wednesday that she was preparing a job posting that would be circulated within the city and on the Massachusetts Municipal Association website.

City ordinances require that the mayor appoint a new chief from within the active ranks of the department. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree and have 15 years of experience, with a minimum of five years in management.

The mayor's choice is then subject to confirmation by the City Council. The pool of candidates must include at least four candidates of captain's rank or above. Failing that, lieutenants may also apply for the chief's position.

Neither McCarthy nor Drew returned telephone calls seeking comment.

Drew, 58, has served as chief since 2000, when he was promoted from deputy police chief to replace the outgoing Stephen Unsworth.

According to his biography on the city police website, Drew joined the force on July 1, 1974 after serving as a Newton officer for two years. In Waltham, he served as an officer in a neighborhood patrol unit, as a sergeant and lieutenant in the patrol division, night platoon commander, and executive assistant to Unsworth for three years. After being promoted to captain in the patrol division in 1992, he implemented a community policing program.

Drew's last year in office has been shadowed by controversy.

In March 2006, McCarthy asked an independent consultant, Warren J. Rutherford, to look into reports that Drew and his deputy chief, Keith MacPherson, had engaged in nepotism and favoritism.

Drew's two daughters, Danelle Hart and Jennifer Vadnais, are members of the department, as is his son-in-law Patrick Hart. Keith MacPherson's daughter Kaitlyn MacPherson is also a member of the department.

Rutherford's report, released that May, raised numerous questions about the hiring and promotion of Drew's and MacPherson's relatives.

McCarthy forwarded several matters to the state Ethics Commission upon Rutherford's recommendation. The commission has not confirmed or denied that it is investigating Drew.

Drew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Drew found himself in the midst of complaints about preferential treatment again this spring, when nearly 100 police union members gathered at a City Council meeting.

The officers argued that one of their colleagues had been barred from returning from sick leave, while his condition was not as serious as that of a superior officer who had been allowed to return to work.