WINCHESTER - Winchester welcomed new Police Chief Daniel O’Connell who was sworn in on Feb. 22. He has been with the Winchester Police Department since 2000 when he entered the Police Academy. He graduated from Saint Anselm College with a BA in Criminal Justice.
There was a recession and police openings were few and far between, noted O'Connell. He worked in the computer industry as a programmer for many years. It was the late 90s during the DOT COM boom so the computer industry was flourishing. He left the computer industry at age 30 and started his career as a police officer.
He commented that retired Police Chief Peter MacDonnell was his mentor for more than 20 years. He taught him many things over the two decades and he would not be where he is today without his teaching and guidance. His father also served as a mentor. He showed him how to work hard, treat people right, and be a positive and productive member of a community since his father owned a business in downtown Winchester.
O’Connell received the Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) distinguished service award for his time spent at their regional Computer Crimes Unit where he was assigned for four years. He worked with unit commander Lt. JJ McLean of the Medford Police Department.
He learned a lot from Lt. McLean as he knew a lot about computer forensics. He learned from Tim McGibbon and Jim Schwab, who were both from the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, as well. He noted that they are great guys and not everyone can do that type of work because most cases are crimes against children.
The biggest challenge as a police officer, he stated, was making sure everyone feels as though they are being treated fairly. Perception is not always reality and people can perceive things differently. For instance, when someone perceives they are not being treated fairly, there is a need for officers to recognize this and address it through logic and reason being as open and transparent as he or she can be.
In turn, the most rewarding part of O’Connell’s career is when officers receive letters from someone they had an interaction with years ago when he/she was not in a good place and that someone lets them know how much they appreciated what they did for them years back to get them where they are now. He added that we will all make mistakes in our lives and the question is do we learn from them and not repeat them?
Being a part of the Winchester community for over 50 years, O’Connell can’t say enough about the community. Growing up he had a lot of mentors whether it be teachers or coaches. He was able to work at his family’s business in town which helped him get to know a lot of people, and he has raised three children here. He is fortunate to be part of such a great community.
As chief, he is looking forward to leading and teaching the department’s leaders of tomorrow what he’s been taught and learned over the years. He is excited to improve himself and take on new challenges in this role.