Photo: A galaxy of police chiefs came to honor Belmont Chief Richard McLaughlin on his retirement after 39 years in public safety.
Former Belmont Town Administrator David Kale said after looking around the Select Board Room in Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 17, “this is the safest place to be in America.”
Inside the space were more than a dozen chiefs of police – each with stars blazing from their collars and shoulders – from across Middlesex county along with many officers, current and past, of the Belmont Police Department.
It was a mighty impressive group of leaders from across the region who came out on a wintery morning to fete one of their own.
For the past dozen years, Richard McLaughlin has led the Belmont Police Department and is just a few weeks from retiring after nearly five decades of service to the country and the towns of Arlington and Belmont.
“When I saw the weather forecast yesterday I told (his wife) Sharon ‘you know, we may be here by ourselves’,” said McLaughlin to the crowd that filled the room.
“I can’t believe how many people came. Thank you again. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” said an emotional McLaughlin.
Town officials – many of who are his friends – a slew of former Selectmen, town employees, residents (including Middlesex DA Marion Ryan) and past members of the Belmont Police force joined McLaughlin and his law enforcement brethren for a final celebration of his long tenure.
Will Brownsberger and Dave Rodgers, Belmont’s elected officials on Beacon Hill, presented a joint proclamation from the Massachusetts House and Senate, the Select Board’s Adam Dash delivered the town’s own decree and Kale returned to Town Hall to present a plaque to the chief for his years on the beat.
A Navy veteran and graduate of both Northeastern and Anna Maria College, McLaughlin joined the Arlington police in 1980, raising to the rank of captain before being named in 2007 Chief of Police in Belmont.
McLaughlin also took leadership roles in several police organizations such as the president of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, treasurer of the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association and member of the Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council.
“You used public safety to reflect who you are and that was to help people,” said Kale. “You leave a legacy of touching many lives over your career in a very positive way.”
“I truly believe that we have a great department with a lot of good people doing a lot of good things including a lot of stuff that’s not seen by the public every day. But they’re out there doing it. And that makes me so proud.
“It’s an honor for me to have been your police chief and I thank you for that,” he said.