Police Chief Anthony Riello Announces His Retirement
By: Christopher Kazarian
Over the past five years Falmouth Police Chief Anthony J. Riello has endeared himself to the community with his sense of humor and a charm that has helped make the Falmouth Police Department a more inviting and open place for the community.
With that same style, he announced his retirement to selectmen last night following a quarterly update on the department and improvements that have been made to local policing in recent months.
“This is not only my last quarterly report for the year, but my final report,” he said. “After five years as chief of police working for the Town of Falmouth and 34 1/2 years as a police officer, the last 16 years as a police chief, I definitely feel it is time for me to move on,” he said.
The transition will be swift as Chief Riello’s last day working will be on Tuesday, November 13. “I don’t believe in long good-byes,” he said. His actual retirement will be on January 5.
He said he made the decision this past June, at which point he began consulting with Town Manager Julian M. Suso and Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper. He thanked the pair for keeping that information quiet until now.
Selectmen had high praise for Chief Riello and the work he has done since coming here from Pittsfield, where he served as that town’s police chief, in 2007.
He was hired in October of that year although his first day was not until December 1, leading him to crack the first of many jokes before selectmen and the public: “It’s a Saturday. I’ll be here at 7 AM,” he joked about that start date.
Last night was more of the same. Prior to the start of the meeting, Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn complimented the chief on how well he looked in his police uniform.
“It’s the only one that fits,” Chief Riello cracked from the back of the room. “I put on my winter weight early this year.”
A Laundry List Of Achievements
Joking aside, selectmen complimented Chief Riello on his achievements in his short time here.
Chairman Kevin E. Murphy was the first to credit the chief for changing the reputation of the department, noting the inner turmoil that existed when he came onboard. Chief Riello, he said, changed that and brought leadership to the position. “You treated people with respect and they treated you with respect,” Mr. Murphy said.
Chief Riello deflected the praise, saying much of the success of the department is due to “the men and women at 750 Main Street. They are the finest group of police officers I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”
I plan to spend a lot of time here. Quite frankly my wife and I fell in love with Falmouth. We have made a lot of friends, met a lot of great folks, so we’re not going to be strangers.
Police Chief Anthony Riello
Ms. Flynn said that Chief Riello brought a positive presence to the community, opening up the channels of communication so that residents began to better understand how his department worked and positively benefited the town.
And she credited him for restructuring the department, approved by Town Meeting this past April, to give him two captains who report directly to him and then four new lieutenant positions. That move was made to improve the chain of command for the police shifts of which three of the lieutenants are now assigned to. The fourth lieutenant, Brian L. Reid, serves in an administrative capacity.
Prior to that change, the responsibility of a shift commander fell into the lap of the sergeants, which could lead to confusion given the fact that there were two to three assigned to each shift. Last year Chief Riello equated that structure to Falmouth having co-town managers instead of just one.
Although Selectman David Braga was absent as he continues to recover from a blood clot in his leg, Mr. Suso read a few comments he had sent to the town manager that listed several notable accomplishments.
They ranged from the small—improving the appearance of the police department lobby with patches and pictures hung in the lobby—to the large, like reinstating the school resource officer, reducing the overlap in shifts among police officers to cut down on overtime, returning to bicycle patrols and redesigning the look of the police cruisers and uniforms.
Again, Chief Riello said many of these initiatives were less his doing than that of those in the department like Captain Edward A. Dunne and Captain William J. McManamin. “So many of those are only because the men and women in that police department make that stuff happen,” he said. “They made it happen because I just got out of the way.”
Selectman Brent V.W. Putnam also highlighted the chief’s efforts to remember the town’s only fallen police officer, Samuel F. Pierce, who died in a motorcycle accident in August 1933, culminating in a permanent memorial outside the department.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure having you here and you will be missed,” Mr. Putnam said.
As to the process of replacing the chief, Mr. Suso was noncommittal last night, saying at the end of the meeting his office will explore its options and should have information shortly.
Falmouth Police Under Chief Riello:
Falmouth Police Demonstrate Use Of Tasers To Public (March 2012)
Police Take Gun From Freshman At FHS (February 2012)
Operation Disrupts Cape Cod Drug Ring (April 2011)
Last night, the chief pushed for the town to consider looking internally, highlighting the more than 60 years of experience his two captains have combined. “Either one of those two captains can step up to the plate,” he said. “There is no question they could be chiefs anywhere else in the state, but they choose to stay here.”
This morning, Chief Riello reiterated that statement, saying both captains were more than capable of handling the responsibilities of the position.
As for his plans, he said he will be returning to the Berkshires with his wife, Christine A. Riello, who will also be retiring in January after 30 years as a teacher. The couple have two children, Ann Mary and Anthony Jr., who has sung several times at the town’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
He did say he has an offer to serve as a consultant he has yet to make a decision on, but beyond that, the 62-year-old said he has plans to spend more time on his motorcycle and to pursue another recent hobby—skydiving. “I’ve got 23 jumps under my belt,” he said. “It’s been great. It’s something I have always wanted to do.”
He promised selectmen that he would attend at least one night of Town Meeting. This morning, he said, he will remain a visible face in Falmouth. “I plan to spend a lot of time here,” he said. “Quite frankly my wife and I fell in love with Falmouth. We have made a lot of friends, met a lot of great folks, so we’re not going to be strangers.”
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