Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt on Thursday announced Police Chief Robert Champagne's retirement after 37 years of service, the last 25 of which he has spent at the head of the department.
Champagne's retirement is effective June 1, 2013, and Bettencourt plans on formulating a transition plan and finding a replacement as soon as possible. Champagne gave Bettencourt the word this week, and Chris Ryder, Bettencourt's chief-of-staff, said it is too early to tell if Bettencourt plans to find a replacement from within the department, or hiring someone from outside.
“Time is of the essence given the critical nature of the position to public safety in Peabody,” Bettencourt said in a statement. “The search process needs to be deliberate and comprehensive and it needs to begin immediately. I am committed to getting the right person for the job.”
Champagne joined the force in January of 1975 as a patrolman, and was promoted to chief 12 years later.
News of his retirement has spread quickly through the law enforcement community, and some big names have stepped up to wish Champagne well and express their gratitude to one of the longest serving chiefs in the state.
“Bob Champagne has been a close friend for over thirty years and I have known him to be a dedicated servant to the people of Peabody, respected by local and national leaders in both law enforcement and the judiciary," Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. "He is a renowned for his proactive, forwarded initiatives in community outreach."
“Chief Champagne has always been a strong leader when it comes to keeping his community safe,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. “Through his many years of dedicated public service, Chief Champagne has focused on the important goals of prevention and holding people accountable for their actions.”
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis had especially admirable words for Champagne, whom he says has served as somewhat of a guide to him throughout his own career.
“I want to congratulate Chief Champagne on the announcement of his well-deserved retirement. Bob is a terrific example of a leader and a mentor. Over the years I have called upon him for advice and guidance; he has always generously given both," Davis said in a statement. "Bob has set the bar high for those of us in law enforcement. His calm manner and effortless approach in meeting his obligations to his community, his officers and his peers, gives us all something to emulate.
"I consider Bob a gentleman and a friend. He will be sorely missed among those of us who have wisely sought his counsel.”