FSU police chief puts down his badge

Posted in the Leominster Forum

Since: Feb 10

Location hidden

#1 Dec 31, 2013
FITCHBURG -- When retiring Fitchburg State University Police Chief James Hamel joined the force in 1974, the female-to-male student ratio was 5-1, there were nights of toilet-papering mischief and panty raids, and the Hammond Campus Center had yet to be built.

In the 40 years since then, Hamel, 61, has watched the city and the university change immensely. The campus has grown considerably in the past 10 years especially, as FSU purchased properties along the North Street corridor and gained the Wallace Civic Center, and the relationship between FSU and the city has blossomed.

Monday was Hamel's last day on the job, one that has been marked by collaboration and a focus on students.

"The students truly are our customers," he said.

"They're here to get an education, they're not here to get a criminal record."
Hamel said he tells his officers to view the students they encounter as brothers or sisters, daughters or sons. He said it helps them realize they are "educators outside of the classroom."

"So many students have attended Fitchburg State and become such remarkable contributors to society after they've left here, and the university I really believe takes a portion of that credit," he said. "And hopefully, if they trip up during that journey, from the time they start here until the end, we've been there to kind of help them along."

Hamel said he always knew he would be a police officer. His father, Wilfred Hamel, served as police chief in Townsend, as did his maternal grandfather, Ira Carleton. Many other family members have been and still are police officers in a number of departments throughout the region.

Before Hamel came to FSU, and for many years simultaneously, he worked as an officer in Townsend and then in Ashby. He counts among his mentors former police chiefs he's worked under in those towns, including Erving Marshall Sr. and Bill May in Townsend and Bob Wilhauck in Ashby.

The Townsend resident didn't give up his post there until he ran for, and was elected, to the Board of Selectmen in 1996. Hamel served a single three-year term on the board, saying term limits are important to him.

At the University Police Department, he worked his way up the ranks, and was appointed as chief in 2005.

For Hamel, one of the most rewarding things about working at FSU has been to see, year after year, students who have faced great adversities walk across the stage at graduation.

"Many times, police departments, we don't very often get to share in the good times. We're called when something's wrong," he said. "Here, we're fortunate that we're called when something's wrong, but we're also there when things are good, and that kind of creates a balance."

On the other hand, Hamel said some of the most challenging events in his years have been student tragedies -- two students murdered off campus in domestic-violence situations, a student who didn't survive a heart transplant, and another who committed suicide.

FSU President Robert Antonucci, who hired Hamel as chief, called him dedicated and loyal, and said he truly understands what it means to be a chief on a university campus.

"He always goes the extra mile to make sure that our students are safe, that we're protected, and if they get in trouble, the goal is to really help them get out of it in the least possible way, so that they learn from their experience rather than being punished," he said.

Since: Feb 10

Location hidden

#2 Dec 31, 2013

Antonucci said Hamel and Fitchburg Police Chief Robert DeMoura -- who is set to retire in March -- have created a model he wants to see replicated.

DeMoura said the first time Hamel came to his office, Hamel got goosebumps -- not because he was cold, but because it was the first time in all of his years at the university that Fitchburg police had invited him to the department. That's when they knew that change was needed.

"We had to work hand in hand to make sure the community at large and the community at the university are safe," DeMoura said.

Last year, university police officers were appointed special police officers in the city, a move both sides say has been of great benefit. They can supply manpower to one another, they train together, and there is much greater communication and information sharing between the departments, Hamel said.

"Crimes have actually been able to be solved because each party knew bits and pieces of a puzzle, and now we're able to, on a daily basis, put those pieces together," he said.

Hamel said he wants to see the next chief continue to work with the city, but students have to come first.

"That's what our primary role is here, not only protect the students, but to make sure the quality of life enables them to get the education they came here for," he said.

Hamel was delighted to see the children of some of the students he'd met when he first started working at the university in the 1970s enroll at the school later on. But when he began to see grandchildren, he knew it was probably time to retire.

Still, putting down his badge isn't going to be easy, Hamel said.

He spoke of one night recently when he was bringing his wife, Susan, to Slattery's for dinner and he instinctively drove instead to the police station. When Hamel attends weddings and other functions, he said he always has to sit or stand with his back to a wall, his arms crossed, no nonsense, like he's working a detail.

"I need to, I guess, get normal," he said with a chuckle. "It's something I haven't done."

Hamel said he would also like to spend more time with his three grandchildren, who are growing up much faster than he'd like.

As he finished up his last day on Monday, officers came to say their good-byes, and it was clear he will be missed.

Sgt. Sarah Camelo, the self-described "crier of the department," fought back tears as she bid him adieu. She's worked with Hamel for the past 15 years.

"We've had a very good open-door relationship with the chief, and that's probably the best thing you can have, having a good rapport with him. You don't find that very often with a chief, and boss," she said.

"He brought our department leaps and bounds from where it was," said Officer Derrick Camelo, who has been on the force for 10 years. "It's going to be really sad to see him go."

Lt. Mike Marcil will serve as interim chief until a new chief is hired.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alanasentinel or on Twitter @alanamelanson.
Happy New Year

Fitchburg, MA

#3 Jan 1, 2014
See ya ! king babysitta

Since: Feb 10

Location hidden

#4 Jan 1, 2014
What's to disagree with? The guys retiring after 40 years. How's that investigation coming along?
Lynch for city council wrote:
<quoted text>
FSU has had a depiction of a gun on the side of their dorm building on Cedar street for well over two years. It is done in chalk and they still haven't removed it.
Our Chief of Police feels that the graffiti is not gang related. I really cannot believe that he really doesn't have a clue.
The judges in Fitchburg have let those caught off the hook with extremely minimal community service. Those caught should be made to pay for the equipment to remove graffiti and they should have to remove it.
Fitchburg courts only move into action when one of the good ole boys needs to enact harassment and abuse of power. Hail to Antonucci! Hail to Antonucci!
In other news the almighty Antonucci has had his head Nazi in charge to lift the no trespassing order against me.
These people have serious mental health issues concerning abusing the power that was given to them. They bow to corruption!
In short time I will find out what the head henchman Chief Hammel has for connections concerning the corruption against me. I know many fifth graders who are smarter than these two! But then again they are adults as they must have common sense so I am still convinced that this Hammel and the Almighty Antonucci are waste deep in corruption protection as they have been enforcers for the corrupt ones!
I think at the debate I just might address the Antonucci unethical situation. I am beginning to think he may just be a Grinch as he fired my brother unjustly days before xmas then he jailed the student on xmas the next year.
I am bringing a little Grinch doll with a Santas hat to place in front of me at the debate for the almighty Antonucci or a sponge bob. I am sure Chief Hammelski with have his wand to check it for radioactive materials.
This city never surprises me anymore as I expect no difference than corruption that rules the day here in the city of Fitchburg.
Lynch for city council wrote:
Maybe if judge Mandell holds the image of the great almighty Antonucci in his head he could look at these drug dealing gangsters and graffiti gang bangers and have the mental thought that they may have wished the almighty Antonucci to have a miserable Xmas and then he can enact high bails or no bails on these criminals.
Wishful thinking Fitchburg!! There seems to be no place for equality of justice within Fitchburg except to promote the corruption within!!!!!
Lynch for city council wrote:
So, I have now labeled Antonucci as the Grinch of Fitchburg; he actually physically resembles the Grinch.
I am giving second thoughts about bringing a small Grinch doll with a santas hat to the debate as Hammel might put in for a swat team and a tank to surround the hall.
Hamel, if you have any ideas of such corruption please call CNN first so they can bring a news truck will ya?
I can see the rag paper the Sentinel printing the story," Lynch brings Grinch doll with a Santas hat to debate in order to intimidate the Almighty Antonucci into thinking that the Grinch who stole Christmas may come to him in his dreams and cause him to wet his bed"..... Hammel remarks, "Lynch is known to be a very dangerous letter writer, he has been known to contact police in order to resolve issues" even though this is the course we suggest people to take it is not civil for Lynch to do as he speaks too much of the truth which all the other politicians are afraid to state"!!!! Judge Mandell issues a dangerous hearing because Lynch wrote the complaints in ink instead of pencil which Chief Demoura states could be a deadly weapon.

United States

#5 Jan 1, 2014
Lynch is a loser. Even back in the old neighborhood we had him pegged as being a lowlife. That's saying a lot considering we were all destined to not make much of our lives. He was always the one we made fun of too his face and he was too dumb to figure it out.

Fitchburg, MA

#6 Jan 1, 2014
Billy wrote:
Lynch is a loser. Even back in the old neighborhood we had him pegged as being a lowlife. That's saying a lot considering we were all destined to not make much of our lives. He was always the one we made fun of too his face and he was too dumb to figure it out.
Not dumb here. Never knew you growing up! Your mother is a low life as she always slept around with all your friends!

Boston, MA

#7 Jan 1, 2014
We knew you Lynch. You were always referred to as the "slow kid."
Hail to the Chief

Fitchburg, MA

#8 Jan 1, 2014
Being the chief at FSU is a hard job. Imagine how tough it is to keep Lynch off canpus in order to protect students and staff from Lynch mayhem and madness, as he could erupt at any time, causing untold chaos. A tough job indeed.
Mookie Wilson

Fitchburg, MA

#9 Jan 1, 2014
Was "the slow one" Lynchie packing fudge back in the day in the old neighborhood?

Gardner, MA

#10 Jan 1, 2014
Lynch wrote:
<quoted text>
Not dumb here. Never knew you growing up! Your mother is a low life as she always slept around with all your friends!
But that was better than you sleeping around and b j the fathers

Fitchburg, MA

#11 Jan 1, 2014
Billy wrote:
We knew you Lynch. You were always referred to as the "slow kid."
No,you didn't know me as you wouldn't have finished such a sentence as my fist would have been breaking bones in your face. That was the old me but it was Fact. So, no you didn't know me mouth!

People like you use to say, geez, you didn't have to swell him up like that. Cowards such as you were the ones starting the fights and then you would be squirming in the corner.

Fitchburg, MA

#12 Jan 1, 2014
Billy wrote:
We knew you Lynch. You were always referred to as the "slow kid."
And for another one my friend I always got the highest grades in school so much that I began to get one question wrong so I wouldn't have the highest score. And in sports I was always very good. And what was your name Mr. fast one?

Fitchburg, MA

#13 Jan 1, 2014
Mookie Wilson wrote:
Was "the slow one" Lynchie packing fudge back in the day in the old neighborhood?
Mookie, now there is another manly coward!! LMAO!!!! This guy always has something to say about gay guys but he stays anonymous because he is afraid of being beat up by one! LMAO. Stop please!

Slow down mookie! You have a small penis and you are ugly as even gay guys are not interested in you. LMAo. Moooooookie

Gardner, MA

#14 Jan 1, 2014
I love posting as Lynch on here to see who answers me. Lynch has not posted in over a month. He no longer live in Fitchburg dumb dumbs

Boston, MA

#15 Jan 1, 2014
Lynch, you and your family were always the trash of the neighborhood. I watched you get your ass kicked more times than I can remember. And do you remember being in those special classes in school? Of course you got good grades, you just had to color in the lines retard.
Mookie Wilson

Fitchburg, MA

#16 Jan 1, 2014
Civil Servant Supporter

Boston, MA

#17 Jan 1, 2014
Funny when the truth comes out, huh Lynch?

Townsend, MA

#18 Jan 2, 2014
The cops were in my coffee shop saying one of the bosses on FPD is going to be named the new Fitchburg State police chief, wait until the crazy guys finds out he's been talking smack bout this cop for a long, long time

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