Fitchburg Police Chief DeMoura's open door closes
Posted in the Fitchburg Forum
Since: Feb 10
#1 Mar 2, 2014
FITCHBURG -- Police Chief Robert DeMoura says he will be leaving on a high note when he puts down his badge at the end of this month after six years leading the department, but he says he's far from retiring.
DeMoura, 59, of Chelmsford, said he loves police work is looking for a larger department in need of reform to head next.
"I love this profession," he said. "It's never been a job. I love coming into work every day."
City leaders, police officers and community members will remember DeMoura's tenure in Fitchburg as one marked by accessibility and responsiveness, improved relations with the community and Fitchburg State University, and shifting the culture of the Police Department.
DeMoura had a rough start in Fitchburg. When he was sworn in as chief in April 2008, not a single member of the police union attended the ceremony. Their absence was a protest of Mayor Lisa Wong's choice to hire an outsider over Capt. Paul Bozicas, then a lieutenant.
Officers were at first resistant to organizational and personnel changes DeMoura made in the department, but he soon earned their acceptance and respect.
"The union was a little apprehensive at first when Chief DeMoura arrived, not knowing him and him being from the outside, but quickly, he put most guys at ease," said Detective Keith Bourne, president of the police union. "He definitely made himself available and approachable to all members of the Police Department."
DeMoura takes pride in his open-door policy, and that all officers -- as well as members of the public -- are able to come and talk to him and feel like they're being heard.
They didn't always agree, however, especially on certain matters of discipline, such as when Lt. Joaquin Kilson was fired for his alleged relationship with an accused cocaine dealer. Despite their disagreements, Bourne said he knew DeMoura was doing what he felt was in the best interest of the Police Department, and he respects him for that.
One of DeMoura's biggest impacts on the department was the almost-immediate institution of Compstat, a comprehensive accountability and management tool that uses data analysis to determine the root causes of issues and when and where to target law enforcement to be most effective. Thanks to Compstat, DeMoura said, and the use of other technology, the department has been able to reduce crime despite experiencing budget cuts and losing officers.
He pointed to the use of Compstat in lowering late-night violent crime and disturbances in the downtown by targeting liquor establishments that weren't being held accountable to the requirements of their liquor licenses, and the institution of an ordinance requiring scrap metal recycling businesses and pawn shops to take and record identification of sellers, which led to significant decreases in instances of breaking and entering into houses by people looking for jewelry and copper piping to sell. This past year marks a 10-year low in such break-ins, DeMoura said.
DeMoura has been a highly visible and accessible police chief, attending nearly every City Council and community meeting that he's been asked to attend, and many where his presence was not requested.
Since: Feb 10
#2 Mar 2, 2014
"He is a very visible, out-there chief, which, to me, is great," said Councilor-at-Large and former Mayor Jeffrey Bean. "I see him not just at meetings but at community events."
"I think he has in particular extended himself to the neighborhoods and to the community," said Council President Stephan Hay. "His visibility and his participation in all of the events that go on in town has served the department well."
"The No. 1 feedback I get from the community is the visibility of the chief and the department as a whole, and how much it has vastly increased," said Wong. "Councilors are talking about the chief being at council meetings, residents talk about seeing him on foot patrol in neighborhoods, community organizations tell me how he actually comes to meetings to visit them and find out what's going on."
Cleghorn Neighborhood Center Executive Director Joana Dos Santos works daily with Latino and other minority populations in the city, which can often feel disconnected with law enforcement. Under DeMoura, she said, she's seen greater communication and trust between these populations and the Police Department, and they are feeling more like the police are there to help them.
Dos Santos said DeMoura has also gained respect from the immigrant community by taking a stance in support of driver's licenses for undocumented people, despite it being an unpopular issue that has garnered criticism.
"He supported them because it was a safety issue," she said. "He wanted to make sure that people driving knew how to drive, and wanted to be able to ID them."
In addition to opening up communications with the immigrant community, DeMoura established strong ties with FSU and its Police Department.
Working with recently retired University Police Chief Jim Hamel, the two departments began a partnership that has been of great benefit, allowing them to put together their respective pieces to solve crimes as well as train together.
"Each and every night, were calling them to help us, and as they came along to help us, they didn't have the authority to," DeMoura said. "So we collaborated to make them special officers citywide."
Last year, FSU President Robert V. Antonucci awarded DeMoura the President's Medal for 2013, in recognition of his leadership and commitment to both the city and the university community.
Dr. David Weiss, an associate professor of criminal justice at FSU, said he came to Fitchburg around the same time as DeMoura, and the two were able to quickly establish a relationship that led to the creation of the Next Generation Leadership Summit for Public Safety Professionals, a weeklong program each summer that allows law enforcement and students to interact, as well as a robust internship program for criminal justice students that allows them to work side by side with patrol officers, dispatchers and detectives.
"It's a win-win situation," Weiss said. "The Police Department benefits with the additional assistance, and the students benefit by being able to work in that police culture and see what law enforcement is all about. That has been phenomenal for our students."
He said some students who interned with Fitchburg police have been hired by the department as dispatchers or by other departments as patrol officers, and one became a New Hampshire state trooper.
Since: Feb 10
#3 Mar 2, 2014
"I think that speaks to Chief DeMoura's character," Wong said. "He not only cares about what's going on right now, but he cares about making sure future generations have what they need to succeed and lead."
DeMoura said he's known since early in his career that working with youth is important, having been the first school resource officer in New Hampshire in 1983 and helped to institute the first community service program for juvenile offenders.
Wong said DeMoura's targeting of resources on youth in the city has created positive relationships between them and law enforcement, and that's helped prevent crime.
"Some of the biggest drops in crime we've seen have been among youth," she said. "I think it's been making the lives of the city and our youth much better because of that."
DeMoura spent 23 years at the Lowell Police Department, beginning as a patrol officer in 1985 and working his way up the ranks to be deputy superintendent when he left in 2008. In his time there, he helped to develop a task force that took down a major stolen car ring as well as a successful community-policing model, which increased the visibility and accessibility of officers in the city and significantly cut down crime, and has been replicated by other police departments throughout the country.
DeMoura also developed and implemented an initiative called Operation Middle Path, a three-phase operation that reduced youth violent crime by forming a collaborative of agencies offering an array of services to runaway youth and their families. While serving as captain in charge of the Criminal Investigation Section, DeMoura revived the investigations into about 20 cold homicide cases that had sat locked away in a safe for more than 20 years. He assigned two detectives to the cases, and within three years, four of the cold cases were solved.
While drug abuse is still a major problem in Fitchburg, DeMoura said three major undercover operations with state and federal officials have made the city safer.
"Unfortunately in the area of addiction, I think what we did for years was we overlooked the addiction part of drug use," he said. "As a result, public health never came in and played a major role."
While there's still much to be done in terms of drug addiction, DeMoura feels great strides have been made in working with the mentally ill. He said the department petitioned the state and received an award -- which was just recently renewed -- that allowed it to become the first in the state to focus on mental illness and have a clinician to assist on calls.
DeMoura said he would have liked to have hired more officers, and that budget cuts prevented him from carrying out many ideas he had.
Bourne said that while he believes DeMoura has done the best he could with the limited resources available to him, he should have advocated more often and more loudly for additional officers.
"He may have done it quietly behind closed doors, but sometimes we would have liked to see it more out in the open," Bourne said. "We know it's the mayor's decision on manpower; we just would've like to have seen the chief at least square off with her and echo some of our sentiments in bolstering our ranks."
He said he hopes the next chief won't be afraid to take on that task. DeMoura's energy level, however, is going to be hard to match, Bourne said.
DeMoura said he's not sure what his legacy at the Fitchburg Police Department will really be until after he's gone, and he sees how the department fares.
"You don't know what you accomplish until after you leave," he said.
DeMoura hopes the next police chief will continue his open-door policy, Compstat and youth programs, and keep strong relations with the community and the university, but he doesn't want a clone of himself.
"I expect them to be themselves," he said.
Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alanasentinel or on Twitter @alanamelanson.
#4 Mar 2, 2014
DeMoura is a very impressive successful man. People should strive to be such a good man with high morals. The world would be a better place.
#5 Mar 2, 2014
almost as bad as anotucci and bowen
#6 Mar 2, 2014
yah gotta admit Jon, Is,nt it just so fun an fit in da burg
#7 Mar 2, 2014
Thought Jtn lives in Concord
#8 Mar 2, 2014
Lies, Lies and more Lies! Who was always absent from community meetings, all 3 of them!
He walked down Main street a total of three times.
Fitchburg has double the amount of gangs. Fitchburg's youth community has been pushed away from relations.
Crime is higher. And the FACT is that I have heard many messages of extreme disappointment.
It has always been the big three in Fitchburg, The Mayor, FSU and the FPD. They all LIE for each other while the majority of the citizens in Fitchburg do not agree with these three at all!
LIES, LIES and more LIES! He had a lack of leadership, extremely poor management skills and a very rude approach!!!!
#9 Mar 3, 2014
finally someone that knows what they are talking about.
#10 Mar 3, 2014
"Fitchburg Police Chief DeMoura's open door closes"!
Maybe now the police station will not home invaded! The bigget crack house in Fitchburg is a stone throw away from the police station.
Hey Sentinel, the entire city talks about your blatant LIES about the Mayor and Demoura. When you run a story like this everyone laughs and displays it to everyone around them.
Such an article urinates on the community's trust! Fitchburg is doomed if the Sentinel continues to LIE about those in the management seats of Fitchburg. It is not freedom of the press , it is freedom to LIE in print in Fitchburg!
Democracy often depends on the honesty of the news agencies. Hitler depended on them printing LIES!
Shame on this newspaper for their constant LYING to the citizens of Fitchburg! Gunshots this morning in Fitchburg as if it was Iraq!
Ask the community organizers if Demoura showed at Community meetings when the citizens were yelling for FPD participation concerning the cry for them to fight the crime that strangles us all!
I reported a cops brother to the FPD 3 times and then I went into the police station at 3 AM after filing at the State Police barracks and with the FBI by phone.
Thank God there is an outside Chief! Others within the FPD need to go and many of the FPD officers know which ones that need to be finally shown the door !
Stabbing in Fitchburg as I write this post! Reduced crime? LIE !
#11 Mar 3, 2014
Remember when the lying Lt. thought he had a shot at the job,what a bag of wind he is. He retired a couple years ago and fell of the face of the earth so much for his value in this business LOL.
#12 Mar 3, 2014
DeMoura is retiring and will receive 80% of his annual salary of $149K which is $119K. He will then seek another job such as a Chief of Police in another State and most likely earn just as much until he retires at age 65.
Why shouldn’t he? There is no incentive to remain here after age 55 and not being able to double your income working in the same position. DeMoura can earn $220K or more with a combined pension from here and a salary in another “out of state” community than to stay here until age 65 and receive $149K annually until retirement.
The only problem is getting outsiders here that will only be here for a short time and don’t care about the department or the city. They too will retire from their departments and move here to double their income until they retire fully at age 65. Obviously they won’t tell the selection committee that during the process but everyone knows why they want the job.
#13 Mar 3, 2014
Please explain how Police are responsible for what criminals do. What good would come from the chief of police strolling down Main street when he has 500 stupid e-mail tips and advice from you he has to read? If I were the chief I would block you but because he takes responsibility in his job I'm sure he reads them. No wonder he wants out.
#14 Mar 3, 2014
An outside Chief doesn’t care. They only took the job to supplement their retirement pension from their other “out of state” job that they retired from.
They are only here for 5-10 years since they are allowed to retire at 55 but have to move to another department that is not in their “home” State so they can work until 65 and earn double their salary.
Many of our local members have also done the same. They retired here since they were “maxed” out in time on the job and met the age requirement of 55 years old to receive the full 80% of their salary pension. They then moved to the Midwest and West Coast and found jobs there that they can earn the same salary as they did here and still collect their pension here.
Don’t you understand?
#15 Mar 3, 2014
What is worse is Dufours Auto Sales is closing on River St. in 3 weeks. One brother (Mike) owns the business but the other brother (Bruce) owns the land.
Bruce had a medical setback and is no longer in the business. But the “Ice Queen” Bruce's wife wants Mike to buy them out for the land. Mike said no and so the wife is being a ***** and now the business is closing for good.
The whole setup was a 50/50 deal from the beginning so if they ever got sued they would not loose the land or business entirely. Never trust a fellow family member’s wife is the moral to this story.
#16 Mar 3, 2014
heard the chiefs are all black, friends of a Deval and bambam
#17 Mar 3, 2014
Hey ghost my screen name
#19 Mar 4, 2014
Classic crazy man behavior. What did you report him for? Did he call you names after finding you in his driveway with a camera and binoculars at midnight? Was he mean to you after catching you trying to peek in his windows?
How many times a week do you call the FPD to complain about cops, Lynch? A dozen? Two? And the SP and FBI? Here's a hint: They all know that you're a liar with a visceral hatred of cops, a record as long as a pre-war Buick and completely out of your mind.
Since: Feb 10
#20 Mar 5, 2014
Why should you even be concerned? You said you would be moving out of Fitchburg if not elected and would be starting two new business's within the next year, was that just another lie? Did you bring any of this stuff up with the Mayor while at the missing boy's vigil Saturday? Did you tell her to her face that she's inept, corrupt and violated your civil rights for having you and your boyfriend arrested and jailed before her re-election? Are the people who attended the vigil the ones all "laughing" at the Mayor and Police Chief along with you? Do any know you lied and tried using Jeremiah as a pawn in your own little personal scheme to protest the Police Chief and the FSU President? A Police Chief mind you that has deemed you not credible and FSU President that has banned you from stepping foot on any college property. Do these people at the vigil know you've been on here for over 4 years naming, accusing and abusing city officials and their family's with false accusations of serious crimes? Do they know that you and David have been accused of trying to steal the custody of a family members child?
Is the CNC Executive Director who works daily with the local Latino community lying when she says under Demoura she has seen much greater communication and trust between the minority community and local Police Department and that they now are feeling more like the police are there to help them?
So again Lynch, who's lying here, did you move like you said you would be doing or not, and have you started working on those two business's like you said you would be doing or not?
#21 Mar 5, 2014
I love that paragraph that mentions that Bourne (President of the Police Union) and Chieffie Boy Demoura DISAGREED over the firing of Lt Joaquin Kilson; who is apparently an associate of a known cocaine dealer.
Didn't we all read that Kilson had even vacationed while staying at the vacation house of this known drug dealer? Yes, we did.
But STILL, Bourne disagreed with Kilson's firing? Un f-ing real. So, the president of the police union does not feel that a Fburg cop who vacations with a known cocaine dealer should be fired for it, eh? Bourne, what the f is wrong with you! Can a f-ing cop do ANYTHING that would result in just cause for firing in your book? Get your f-ing head out of your arse Bourne. Your loyalty to your cop buddies has clearly clouded your common sense. That is, if you actually aver had any....again, un f-ing real!
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