A Room Of Stars Came To Send Belmont Police Chief McLaughlin Into Retirement

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.

Police Chief Gets A Raise, And His Retirement Date

Photo: Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin on a tour of the current police headquarters.

Belmont’s long-standing Police Chief Richard McLaughlin received a pay raise and a contract extension which will allow him to end his career in his hometown. 

McLaughlin received a glowing review by Town Administrator Patrice Garvin who approved the pay raise which increases the chief’s total annual compensation package – made up of salary, holiday pay and a first responder stipend – to $185,567 retroactive to July 1, 2018. 

“In general, the Chief received the highest marks … and excedes expectations” in running the town’s police department, Garvin told the Board of Selectmen last week, who approved the pay increase unanimously. 

In addition to his review, McLaughlin request the selectmen extend his contract through Dec. 31, 2019 – it was scheduled to end at the end of June of next year – was also accepted, with the stipulation that his pay will remain flat through 2019. 

McLaughlin told the Belmontonian after the meeting the extension was sought so he could retire in his current position. 

“Yes, my last day will be the end of 2019,” said McLaughlin. 

A Belmont resident, McLaughlin began his career with the Arlington Police in 1980 and spent 27 years with the department reaching the rank of captain. He was appointed Belmont’s top cop in February 2007. This spring, McLaughlin helped in facilitating final design plans for a major renovation of the department’s 85-year-old headquarters at the corner of Concord Avenue and Pleasant Street, one of his long-term priorities as chief.