Select Board Pegs McIsaac To Be Next Belmont Police Chief (VIDEO)

Photo: Belmont Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac

Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac could soon be leading his hometown police department as the Belmont Select Board unanimously selected the life long resident to succeed Richard McLaughlin as Belmont’s next police chief.

“I hope to continue to serve the Town of Belmont [in] the capacity of Police Chief,” MacIsaac told the board after an hour-long presentation during a public meeting at Town Hall on Monday, Dec. 9.

MacIsaac and Belmont Lt. Chris Donahue – who addressed the board and a handful of residents on Monday – were the finalists from an original group of five selected by the Police Chief Screening Committee chaired by former Selectman Mark Paolillo.

While saying that the town “seems to have an embarrassment of riches” with two outstanding candidates for the job, Select Board’s Adam Dash believed “while Chris Donahue sounded like a great cop, I think James MacIsaac sounds like a great leader.”

MacIsaac will take command of the 108 member (with 49 sworn officers) department – pending contract negotiations with the town – from McLaughlin who is retiring on Dec. 31.

Once a contract is squared away, MacIsaac will be Belmont’s 12th full-time chief since David Chenery, Jr. was named Superintendent of Highways and Police Chief in 1877, according to the late town historian, Richard Betts.

In their presentations, Donahue and MacIsaac agreed on the need for additional support on traffic – 42 percent of all calls to Belmont Police involve traffic related incidents – assisting the elderly and strong school/police relations. Each pointed to strategies to protect victims of domestic violence which make up 90 percent of the assault and battery calls to police.

Belmont Police Lt. Chris Donahue.

They also agreed that civil service, which provides preference to residents in entry-level officer positions, has hurt Belmont’s ability to attract an increased diverse pool of candidates.

In his presentation, MacIsaac said that “attempting to maintain the status quo within the department is not an option.” He noted that his philosophy is that all organizations are “always growing even if you’ve reached that top pinnacle.”

“So we are going to build on success that Chief McLaughlin has created,” said MacIsaac.

Among the first acts under MacIsaac’s watch will be filling the vacancies of assistant chief and captain, create strong lines of communication with an emphasis on collaborative partnership between Command staff and officers as well as be cognitive of the fiscal limitations placed on the police budget.

McIsaac will also commit to a six month evaluation of 21 specific areas of policing including staff levels, whether there is too many supervisory positions, reviewing the IT function including the possibility of adding a software specialist to the force and if the department should continue a K-9 unit.

“You need to be willing to try new things. As long as it doesn’t endanger somebody or endangers civilians or cost a lot of money, I’m willing to try just about anything … to improve the organization,” he said.

The Select Board were more supportive of MacIsaac’s approach and specifics to issues. While there were many similarities to the finalists approach to the job, “the principle difference is the fact that MacIsaac’s has been assistant chief for some time and I think he is more attune to the issues on the management side of things,” said Roy Epstein.

And Board Chair Tom Caputo said while the town would benefit with either candidate in the job, “I was engaged and excited to see the depth in which he seems to understands the issues … and the manner in which he was able to provide specific examples to almost take it to a strategic level.”

“While we have two very good candidates, the nod for me is to Jamie,” said Caputo.

Worst Kept Secret Revealed: Donahue, MacIsaac Finalists To Be Next Police Chief

Photo: Belmont Police Chief search is down to two.

It must have been the worst kept secret around town for the past month.

But today, Thursday, Nov. 21, it can be revealed that Belmont Police’s Lt. Christopher Donahue and Assistant Chief James MacIsaac are the two finalists selected by the Police Chief Screening Committee and will be interviewed by the Belmont Select Board on Monday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m.

Both candidates are currently employees of the Belmont Police Department. The interviews will be televised by the Belmont Media Center.

Copies of Donahue and MacIsaac’s application materials, inclusive of their respective plans for their first year on the job are available at

Phone Threat To Belmont High Result In Increased Police Presence

Photo: Belmont High School.

A threatening phone call to Belmont High School resulted in an increased police presence at the school on Thursday, Sept. 26.

According to an email to the greater Belmont High community, District Superintendent John Phelan said an unknown person stated “We are coming to get you” to a main office secretary.

“The Belmont Police were immediately informed, and are investigating the call. At no time during this process were our students and staff in danger,” wrote Phelan. As a precaution, officers were posted along with the School Resources Officer at the school throughout the day.

Phelan revealed in the past few days, officials several communities received threats to “shoot up” and plant bombs at their schools. The threats are being investigated by state public safety authorities although Belmont has not receive similar emails.

“Student and staff safety [is] our top priority, and we will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to keep everyone safe,” said Phelan.

Residents, parents, and students with questions can call Phelan at 617-993-5401.

Belmont Police Relocates to Temporary HQ at 40 Woodland

Photo: Getting to the temporary location of the Belmont Police HQ. (Belmont Police)

The Belmont Police Department relocated to its stopgap headquarters at 40 Woodland St. on Sunday, Aug. 4.

The temporary station is located at the bottom of Woodland Street just past the Belmont Water Department building.

The entrance to Woodland Street is approximately 800 feet west of the intersection of Thomas Street and Waverley Street and is roughly a quarter-mile east of the intersection of Trapelo Road and Waverley Street.

The relocation is necessary while renovations and additions to the existing building are set to be underway on Aug. 12. The BPD anticipates that it will spend 18 months at the temporary location.

All phone numbers and email addresses remain the same. The building at 460 Concord Ave will have NO police personnel present. If you need to visit us, please proceed to 40 Woodland St.

Woman Stabbed On Partridge​ Lane; Suspect Caught After Chase Into Cambridge

Photo: The location of the assault in Belmont.

A woman was assaulted and stabbed at a home on Partridge Lane this morning, Wednesday, July 17 and a male suspect arrested in Cambridge after a high-speed chase through three communities, according to a press release from the Belmont Police Department.

Belmont Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac said at 9:38 a.m. officers responding to a reported altercation between a man and a woman on Partridge Lane – a sleepy neighborhood of 1950s-era ranch houses on the back side of Belmont Hill – found the woman suffering from apparent stab wounds due to an assault. The victim was given medical aid by the officers and transported to a local hospital where she continues to be treated.

The man, who the woman knows, attempted to flee by car but was located by Belmont Police. The suspect then led Belmont officers on a high-speed chase from Belmont into Arlington before crashing his vehicle in Cambridge where he was placed into custody. He was also taken to a local hospital for injuries related to the impact.

“This an open and ongoing investigation, additional information will be released as it becomes available,” said MacIsaac.

Police To Enforce Parking Bylaws Along Lower Belmont Street Starting June 3

Photo: Map of the enforcement area (Belmont Police)

The law is coming to the Wild, Wild West of parking known as the lower section of Belmont Street.

Due to long-standing complaints of vehicles and commuters habitually ignoring the town’s parking bylaws along the eastern end of the main traffic artery, Belmont Police will begin vigorously enforcing the parking code beginning Monday, June 3.

The enforcement area will run from School to Ericsson streets and will include both sides of Belmont Street which the town has jurisdiction.

The town’s Parking Control Officers will enforce:

• all posted parking signs such as “1 or 2 hour parking limits” and “no parking to the corner”,

• MBTA bus stops, and

• unposted parking bylaws including no parking within 20 feet of an intersection, blocking bike lanes, driveways or fire hydrants.

Apply for the Police Chief Screening Committee


The Belmont Board of Selectmen has recently created the Police Chief Screening Committee to assist in the search for Belmont’s next Police Chief.. 

The Board is looking for two residents with a variety of talents and backgrounds who are willing to make the commitment to serve on this committee.  This committee will consist of nine voting members.

Residents who are interested in serving are invited to apply using the application specific to this particular committee which can be located on the Town website:

If you have any questions related to this committee or the appointment process, please contact Jessica Porter, Human Resources Director, at 617-993-2740 or In order to be considered for one of the two available seats, applications must be returned to Porter no later than Friday, May 31.

Belmont Officers Want Insider For New Chief

Photo: Belmont Police Department’s Todd Benedetti speaking before the Belmont Board of Selectmen

Representatives from the Belmont Police Department’s rank and file and their superiors were speaking from the same hymnal at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, asking the board to limit its search for a new chief from within the force.

With several officers with extensive professional development and advanced degrees in criminal justice, “I honestly don’t believe you’ll find any finer leaders then what we have in this department,” said Belmont Police Sgt. Ben Mailhut representing the department’s Superior Officers Association 

At the end of the meeting, the board authorized the writing of a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking a consultant to assist the town in finding a replacement for Chief Richard McLaughlin who is retiring on Dec. 31, 2019.

In a March 14 memo to the Selectmen, Belmont’s Human Resources Director Jessica Porter wrote that while there are arguments to keep the search inside the department – cost, consistency of departmental operations and morale – including external candidates will allow for a greater pool of professional applicants. She reminded the board it has had success selecting from outside including the appointment of the Town Administrator, the Belmont Light General Manager and Town Accountant.

“There’s pluses and minuses [when including an external search]. On the one hand, you don’t want to discourage people who are internal from moving up and on the other hand you really don’t know what’s out there until you start looking and we’ve made several hires from the outside,” said Selectmen Chair Adam Dash.

In an attempt for a compromise, Selectman Mark Paolillo put forth a two-step approach in which internal applicants would be vetted and only if no one meets the criteria for the position, only then would outside candidates be brought forward.

Belmont Police personnel made it clear their preference where the next chief should come from. Belmont Police Department’s Todd Benedetti said officers like himself, supervisors and the public “are watching this meeting and are very concerned with the possibility that the town spending thousands of dollars on an outside search when there are viable candidates inside the department.”

“Why not interview these candidates first then go to the outside if it is necessary,” said Benedetti, noting that closeby communities such as Watertown, Lexington, Waltham and Arlington are staying inside the department as it will ease the transition and keep morale high. With the renovation of police headquarters soon to be underway, “this is not the time” for an outside hire  “to come in and get used to the department.”

“Our officers believe in our internal candidates and believe it will allow in an easy transition through these tough times,” he said.

Porter presented a four-part recruitment process to the board:

  1. Hiring a consultant/search firm to assist the town.
  2. Whether or not the consultant conducts an assessment center; ie mock exercises involving real-life situations which the candidates would resolve a problem or
  3. Create a nine-person screening committee consisting of  Mark Paolillo, who is leaving the selectmen in April, Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan, a representative from the schools such as a principal, a president or member of a PTO, two residents, someone representing the Council on Aging, and a current police chief from a neighboring town.

Under the plan’s timeline, the issuance of the RFP will occur in July, and the screening committee appointed in mid-September. Finalists for the position will come before the selectmen in November and a final vote among the candidates in mid-November.

If all goes to plan, Belmont’s next police chief’s first day will be Jan. 6, 2020.

With HQ Under Renovation, Belmont Police Is Seeking A Temporary Home

Photo: The current Belmont Police Headquarters

Got an extra room you can spare? How about a spacious backyard that’s available to rent?

Than call the Belmont Police because the force will need a place to crash beginning this summer as its nearly 90-year-old headquarters undergoes a comprehensive renovation.

That’s the latest from the police brass and the building committee overseeing the expansion and modernization of both the police headquarters on Concord Avenue and the Department of Public Works facilities off C Street as they came before the Belmont Board of Selectmen for an update on the projects on Monday, Feb. 4.

And while the groups have been in talks with several groups in town to find an acceptable interim site, Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the DPW/BPD Building Committee, said “we are not ready to articulate our list” of possible stopgap locations, although later in the presentation, Town Hall was mentioned as a “possible” replacement site.

According to Mahoney, bids for both projects will go out in March with construction beginning in June. She also noted while estimates call for a 10 month construction schedule, “if you ever [renovated] a kitchen … you know what takes 10 months can quickly become a year to 15 months.”

Mahoney told the board the original plan to keep the 55 member department – of which 48 are sworn officers – in the structure at the corner of Concord and Pleasant Street was deemed “not a good idea” by all parties due to safety concerns of police personnel working in a construction area and the acknowledgement that renovating an empty building would allow a quicker and more extensive restoration.

The question now facing the police and town is where the force will be relocated. Police Chief Richard McLaughlin said operational and organizational analysis performed by assistant Chief James MacIsaac placed safety, parking, accessibility and public access high on the list of requirements for a temporary site, all the while doing so with the minimum of disruption while not taking up space.

One unit already knows where its going and it’s not far. Communications, which includes the 9-1-1 operations, will be housed in a trailer in the front of headquarters since all its equipment will remain in the building. 

McLaughlin told the board the biggest potential headache is how to deal with 25 “marked” police vehicles that will need to be parked close to the temporary headquarters.

“Where do they go?” he said. There are also issues with security for officers and civilian employees, those arrested, processed and detained (“our visitors”) and storage of evidence and paperwork.

“Every issue around town revolves around parking,” quipped Mahoney.

The committee and police will be back before the board in two weeks with more definitive plans.

Two Arrested In Drug Bust On Burnham Street; Fentanyl Seized

Photo: An example of Fentanyl.

A significant amount of opioids was seized and two people arrested in a Belmont drug bust Thursday night, Jan. 24.

According to Asst. Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac, Belmont Police detectives along with members of the Suburban Middlesex County Drug Task Force arrested Albert Altfeder, 29, of Burnham Street and charged him with trafficking 10 or more grams of Fentanyl.

After receiving several complaints that individuals were involved in street-level drug transactions in Belmont, detectives and the Suburban Middlesex County Drug Task Force began to conduct surveillance in Belmont. After a lengthy investigation, a search warrant for Altfeder’s home was obtained.

At 9: 21 p.m. on Jan. 24, members of the Task Force along with Belmont Police Patrol Division and Belmont Police Detectives entered Altfeder’s residence where they discovered 13 grams of Fentanyl along with other drug paraphernalia.

Officers also found Jennifer Francis, 24, Of Danvers, in Altfeder’s home, who was subsequently arrested on two outstanding warrants for drug possession of a Class A drug out of Salisbury and an OUI/drugs out of Watertown.