Sullivan sworn in as police chief

  • James Sullivan receives his chief of police badge from former chief Craig Lundgren after being sworn in Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • James Sullivan is sworn in as police chief in Orange by Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2019 11:28:22 PM
Modified: 7/11/2019 11:28:12 PM

ORANGE — With his fellow police officers standing behind him, James Sullivan raised his right hand and vowed to “faithfully and impartially” perform the duties of Orange police chief, and defend the constitutions of the commonwealth and United States.

It’s now official. Sullivan was sworn in as Orange police chief Thursday night by Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer.

His police chief badge was pinned on him by Craig Lundgren, the former Orange police chief whom Sullivan described as a mentor during his interview for the position with the Orange Selectboard.

Sullivan has been a member of the Orange Police Department since 2004, and was sergeant and designated second-in-command when Lundgren, who is now police chief in neighboring Athol, left the position in March.

Sullivan then became acting police chief, having previously performed police chief duties whenever Lundgren was away, and was ultimately chosen for the permanent position last month, after the Selectboard publicly interviewed him and three other candidates. The Selectboard was unanimous in its decision to hire Sullivan.

“I applied to be the chief of police in Orange because I love working here,” Sullivan said in his interview.

Having grown up in Athol, Sullivan said, “A lot of the business owners, a lot of the residents, are people I’ve known all my life.”

Sullivan said his ethos as a police officer includes patience, honesty and accessibility, traits he believes are particularly important as a police chief.

He said he would be accessible to citizens, and listen to their concerns, as well as the concerns of those working under him. Talking to people and building trusting relationships is also one of the most effective crime-solving and crime-prevention approaches, Sullivan said.

“You’ve got to have patience — that’s one of the things I learned from Craig Lundgren — and you have to be honest. You have to care about people,” Sullivan said. “You have to be approachable and reachable by everybody, whether it’s someone who works with you, any other town department, town businesses, residents, they all have to be able to come in and talk to you about stuff. You can’t just sit in your office and crunch numbers and be unreachable.”

Sullivan will also be looking to bring grants to the Orange Police Department, specifically mentioning “click-it or ticket” grants. While he recognizes the fiscal constraints of operating in a town like Orange, Sullivan also said he would eventually like to hire a full-time detective — although he said he doesn’t envision the department having to grow by much.

For new recruits — one of whom was hired Thursday night, now-full-time officer Kyle White — Sullivan said he would make sure they are versatile law enforcement officials prepared to deal with whatever might come up. In a town without a large, compartmentalized police department, officers have to be able to do a little of everything, he said.

“In a town like Orange, when you get in a cruiser and go out, you have to have a good idea of how to handle everything from a skunk going around in circles to a homicide,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan was also the police officer who caught and arrested now-convicted murderer Lewis H. Starkey III after a five-day manhunt in 2017. Sullivan testified at Starkey’s trial that when he caught the murderer, Starkey said, “You got the prize.”

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