After 25 years of service, Paliotta ready for new role as Charlestown police chief

After 25 years of service, Paliotta ready for new role as Charlestown police chief

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By Jason Vallee

CHARLESTOWN — For the past 25 years, Michael Paliotta has come to be known for his dedication to public safety and service to the community.

Now “the prodigal son,” as some jokingly call him as a result of his returning to the community after spending summers at the Charlestown Breachway as a child, is ready to take the reins of the Charlestown Police Department.

Paliotta, a 25-year police veteran and near-lifelong member of the community, officially took the role of police chief on March 1, taking the helm from Jeffrey Allen, who announced in early February that he would retire following 5½ years as chief in Charlestown and more than 30 years of service in law enforcement.

“As chief, you work directly for the community. Mike gets that and he’s a great fit to lead this department and town into the future,” Allen said. “Mike is intelligent, he understands what it means to be in law enforcement and he always has and always will put the community first. He was a natural choice.”

For Paliotta, simply having the chance to lead the department he’s grown to love as a second family is an opportunity he’s always wanted.

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to lead and work alongside some of the finest men and women in law enforcement at the Charlestown Police Department,” he said. ”I strongly believe that policing is one of the noblest professions a person can undertake. It is truly a calling, not just a job, and I applaud anyone that is currently in policing or is considering pursuing a career in policing.”

Paliotta, 49, has long been well known in the community, along with his wife, Heather Paliotta, who has worked for 16 years for the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce, including as executive director for almost nine years. The couple lives in Richmond and has four daughters, three who are grown, as well as three granddaughters.

An avid outdoorsman like his father, Paliotta said he spent summers at the breachway as a kid, an experience he said eventually led to his return to the community at the start of his career.

A 1990 graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in environmental management, Paliotta joined the force as a reserve officer in 1992 and was hired full-time the following year. He completed training at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy, earning the rank of class valedictorian, and served as a patrol officer until 2001 when he was promoted to sergeant. Paliotta also continued his schooling after becoming an officer, earning a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston university in 2014. 

Paliotta rose through the ranks, being promoted to lieutenant in 2009 and overseeing the patrol division at that time, before being reassigned in 2012 to serve as acting chief upon the retirement of then-chief Jack Shippee.

Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz said Paliotta was one of five finalists in a nationwide search in 2012 and was considered a top choice before the position ultimately went to Allen.

Although Paliotta was technically “competition” at the time, Allen said the lieutenant was professional, handled the role of acting chief with grace and proved to be a welcome resource with a vast knowledge of the town, budgets and department operations.

In fact, it was his professionalism that led Allen to name Paliotta as the department’s first and only accreditation manager in 2013, a move that was crucial to the department acquiring full state accreditation for the first time in 2017.

It was also his passion for the community and safety of its residents that led to Allen naming Paliotta as commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, overseeing detectives, prosecution and accreditation in 2014.

“Mike has proven, time and again, that he is loyal to this department and this town,” Allen said. “I’m confident in his abilities, and I think the community is getting a dedicated professional, someone who will always do what’s right for the town of Charlestown.”

In his first few months as chief, Paliotta is certain to be busy as he looks to bolster the ranks and hire a command staff to take the department into the future. With the announcement of his promotion, the department was left with no full-time lieutenants, as well as needing to fill two of the department’s four sergeant positions. Paliotta will be responsible for revamping his command staff — a 90-day process that he said began nearly two months ago and will be completed within the next 30 days.

In addition, the department will be looking to hire two additional officers this year and already has a third new hire in the academy.

“It’s a lot of change for a small department,” Paliotta said.

Paliotta said he also intends to continue pushing the department forward technologically, creating a long-term plan for system upgrades to keep the department at the forefront, as well as handing off and training another officer to take over accreditation responsibilities and other tasks.

“My goal will be to balance the costs with the need to keep modern,” he said. “It’s a balancing act, but a challenge I look forward to.”


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