MILLBURY, Mass. ‒ Millbury has a new police chief coming to town: Ken Howell, now a lieutenant with the New Haven Police Department.
Howell, like many residents of Central Mass, has been suffering with the flu. He took the time to answer a few questions Friday morning as he shuffles between finishing up his days in New Haven and visiting Millbury before his start as the new chief, on or about the target date of Jan. 28.
MDV: What are your first impressions of Millbury?
KH: “It’s a lovely town, it is a beautiful town. The people are friendly. It has a great atmosphere, and I think I’m going to really enjoy it there.”
MDV: You’ve already spent some time with the police department and the officers.
KH: “Yes, I’ve met a lot of officers and spent some time with them yesterday (Thursday) and last week. I spent a lot of time speaking with them and the dispatchers about the systems and the management systems.”
MDV: How are you planning on approaching the new job, especially in the first few days? Is there going to be a period of assessment?
KH: “I plan on doing a lot of listening, I want to learn about the culture of Millbury and sit down with each officer for at least 45 minutes to an hour and speak with them and see how they envision the department. How they see things and how we can fix things. And where do they see themselves in the department in a few years. After I listen and evaluate, I think we’ll be in a better position to make some changes … something the culture can accept.”
MDV: What kind of changes can we expect?
KH: “We’re going to look at implementing some systems here, dependent upon on what the system can use and our stats and we’ll move forward. I’d like to implement the Compstat mode, and I can appoint some district commander for the sectors of Millbury depending on how we divide the sectors of the town.”
MDV: What are your thoughts on community policing and having a more active presence in the schools in light of the Newtown events?
KH: “That was the first thing I thought of when I heard of the events in Newtown. What kind of plans do we have in Millbury, God forbid something like that happened here? We’re going to explore that with the school system, and have our officers fully trained and we can do with what we have to do. Being a former SWAT, I know what needs to be done and will ask the superintendent to use the school properties for training. I would like to reach out to Sutton and Grafton to do some dual training and effort because we’re a small town and with a situation like that, you generally need at least four officers on scene so it’s a situation I’d like to reach out to the other towns and work together. It is at the top of my list.”
Howell added, “I’m a big proponent of training, training and more training. People may ask, why do we need to do this type of training? And my answer is you can never be too prepared. You should always prepare for the worst, so that if a situation develops, I can sit back and say, 'My guys and gals are trained and can handle this.'”
Howell said he was looking forward to moving to Millbury and “on the 24th I look forward to meeting as many of the citizens of Millbury as can make it, and if not then, I will meet them around town soon.”