O'Connell Acting Chief

Acting Police Chief Dan O'Connell (starting Tuesday, Jan.5) receives best wishes from out-going Chief Peter MacDonnell (note: O’Connell is wearing his grandfather’s Lt. badge - circa 1920 - who was a long-time Winchester Police Officer known for his great fishing abilities). MacDonnell who grew up in Winchester now lives in Reading.

WINCHESTER - It’s a new year and the Winchester Police Department has a new chief. Today, Dan O’Connell takes over as the acting chief of police as former Police Chief Peter MacDonnell said goodbye at the end of 2020.

MacDonnell took over for former Police Chief Ken Albertelli back on July 1, 2016. He announced his retirement back in August.

MacDonnell, a life-long Winchester resident who now resides in Reading, graduated from Winchester High School in 1978, started his police career on May 2, 1988. More recently, he spent eight years as a lieutenant and five as the lieutenant in charge (basically the second-in-command) before taking over as chief.

MacDonnell comes from a family of town workers - his grandfather was the Town Treasurer in the 1950s into the 1960s - so it’s no surprise that he would go down the same road. Now, he’ll head down another road. It’s not yet known which one, as MacDonnell stayed quiet during the last few months of 2020, instead choosing to focus on the department and not his own aspirations.

With O’Connell now in charge, the department has someone who’s worked under MacDonnell for the past few years. The town will now ask him to deal with the coronavirus (along with Town Manager Lisa Wong, Fire Chief Rick Tustin and Health Director Jennifer Murphy) as first responders are among those next in line to receive the vaccine this month, perhaps by next week.

He’ll remain in charge until a chief is appointed according to the civil service process, Wong said this morning via email.

“We hope that the process will be complete in February,” she added.

Whether or not O’Connell is a potential candidate, the Town Manager said she was unable to disclose that information at this time.

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