Foley takes over as police chief Monday

Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley

Public invited to swearingin ceremony, reception

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Massachusetts state law mandates police officers retire by the age of 65. Vermont has no such rule. That is why, at 64, Patrick Foley is returning to the state where his policing career began 40 years ago to take over as chief of the Williston Police Department.

A swearing-in ceremony and public reception is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Monday at the Williston Police Station, 7928 Williston Road. Foley has been the chief of police in Douglas, Mass., for 22 years. His last day was Wednesday.

Foley said he plans to settle into a new apartment Friday and check in at the station Sunday before he officially takes over Monday. Former Police Chief Todd Shepard retired in September after five years at the helm. “I’m not ready to retire. I’m looking for career advancement,” Foley said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“I still have a lot of spunk and drive to give to the police department.” Foley began his policing career in 1977 as an officer in Burlington. He also held the chief of police job in Windsor, Vt., for eight years.

His daughter still lives in Bristol and works in Chittenden County. “I know Vermont very well,” he said, “I love the location, and I still have a lot of friends in Chittenden County.” He takes over a department that currently has two open police officer positions and one open dispatcher position.

“This is an important changing of the guard for the department,” Town Manager Rick McGuire said. “We are looking forward to having the benefit of Chief Foley’s leadership skills, experience and personal qualities.

I encourage members of our community to join us (Monday) and welcome Chief Foley to Williston.” Foley got a jump on community introductions earlier this month when he attended the seventh annual Chowder Challenge in Williston village — a community event that attracted about 800 people and raised funds for the Williston Police Officers’ Association.

“Talking to the sponsors, the officers and the volunteers — I got a lot of positives out of that day,” Foley said. He called Williston a “dual environment” with the challenges associated with the daily influx of people to its retail core along with serving the town’s roughly 8,900 residents.

Douglas has a similar population of about 8,500, but lacks a similar retail zone. “I will take my time and do ridealongs with the officers to see how they work,” Foley said. “I’ll reach out to the various businesses and see what their needs and concerns are and try to address them.” Monday’s swearing-in ceremony will be conducted by Town Clerk Deborah Beckett.

Foley will be the fourth new police chief in Williston in the last 10 years. Citing a colleague who worked until he was 78, Foley said retirement is not on the horizon. “A lot of people are living a lot longer,” he said. “I enjoy being out there, and that’s what drives me.”