CHARLESTOWN — After 32 years as a Rhode Island police officer and more than five years as chief of the Charlestown Police Department, Jeffrey Allen will be stepping away from law enforcement.
“I can’t stand the word ‘retirement’ because I feel like I’m too young,” Allen said Friday. “I’m not retiring, I just want to experience other things, and I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m the same 24-year-old kid.”
Charlestown Town Administrator Mark S. Stankiewicz confirmed Friday that Allen submitted his letter of resignation several weeks ago and will formally retire effective March 1. The Charlestown Town Council will determine plans to replace Allen during an executive session at Monday’s meeting.
“One of the bigger areas where Chief Allen has helped over the years is in establishing a strong professional working relationship with the Narragansett tribal police. We have a better relationship today than we have had in many years,” Stankiewicz said. “He has worked diligently to resolve multiple issues the town has faced and has provided solid leadership for our community.”
“There’s a lot of respect there. Our police departments get along really well,” he said. “You can’t underestimate having that kind of relationship … mutual respect on both sides.”
Allen, 55, joined the Charlestown Police Department in September 2012, the unanimous selection of a three-chief committee that interviewed more than 50 applicants. He came to the department from South Kingstown, where he had served 26 years with the police department there, working his way through the ranks and serving as a captain and a seven-year commander overseeing the department’s patrol operations.
His tenure in Charlestown was marked with numerous challenges, including shepherding the department through personnel issues including a lengthy process that involving former 10-year officer and Evan Speck. Speck sued the department in 2015, alleging discrimination by members of the department, but the lawsuit was later dismissed when a federal investigation led to a conviction against Speck for steroid trafficking and money laundering, a case that also brought Speck’s accusations against the department into question.
With the assistance of Lt. Michael Paliotta, Allen also helped to usher the department through a three-year accreditation process that began in 2014 and led to the department receiving full accreditation by the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission last spring, a process Allen said is never-ending.
“It takes a lot of time to be accredited, and when you get accredited, it doesn’t stop there,” he said.
Stankiewicz said Friday that the decision of who will replace Allen, both short- and long-term, falls to the Charlestown Town Council, but noted that he intends to recommend Paliotta as the town’s next permanent chief.
Paliotta, who was among five finalists in 2012 when Allen was hired and has more than 25 years of experience with the department, has been instrumental in helping the agency continue moving forward, Stankiewicz said. Paliotta also has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University, Stankiewicz said, and hiring someone with this much talent and experience from within would be beneficial to the department.
“It is my position that the council should consider him long-term, but it’s their decision,” Stankiewicz said. “If that’s not to be, they will need to appoint an acting replacement and determine what the next step in the process will be.”
Allen said he’s proud of his service and excited about the challenges that await.
“The Charlestown community is awesome. I am really proud I was able to serve here,” Allen said. “I was 24 when I started (working as a police officer), and I’m almost 56. that’s a long time.
“I look at my youngest daughter now, and I think, ‘Wow, that was me.’ I’m going to have to transition into being Jeff Allen, and I’m looking forward to that and getting into the private sector and doing different things.”