Michael L. Lyle, Chief
56 W. Foster St.
Melrose, MA 02176
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Contact: John Guilfoil
Melrose Police Officer William O’Donnell Retires After Nearly 40 Years of Service
MELROSE — It’s been a long and fulfilling ride, but after 37 years with the Melrose Police Department, Officer William O’Donnell hung up his hat — which he was known to wear even when driving in his cruiser — last week.
Feb. 28 marked Officer O’Donnell’s last day with the Melrose Police Department, and summed up a four-decade long career in the criminal justice field.
Officer O’Donnell was appointed to the Melrose Police Department in 1981. For years, he was a prominent figure in sector 2 — covering the southwest section of the city. Residents often saw him walking throughout downtown and easily recognized him when he was behind the wheel of his cruiser.
He’s also an avid animal lover and was known to “issue” many dog biscuits to man’s best friend. When a pig got loose from its pen and was wandering around Main Street last year, everyone knew Officer O’Donnell was the guy to catch it.
“Bill was so proud of catching that little piglet,” Chief Lyle recalled. “His love for animals always shined through whatever he was doing.”
The longtime officer and chief share a special connection — Officer O’Donnell served as the field training officer for Chief Lyle when he came on board in 1986.
“He instilled many values in me that I still carry today,” Chief Lyle said. “Bill’s presence in the department and around the city will be greatly missed, but we all wish him well in this next chapter of his life.”
Prior to joining the Melrose Police Department, O’Donnell enlisted in the Marine Corps as an 18-year-old in 1971. He served two years of active duty, including a deployment to Vietnam. Upon receiving an honorable discharge in 1973, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve, later retiring in 1999 at the rank of First Sgt.
Officer O’Donnell initially entered the criminal justice field in 1973 when he took on a job as an officer at the Suffolk County Jail. From 1979-1981, he served a federal police officer with the U.S. Federal Protective Service in Boston. In that position, he worked at Cuban refugee centers during President Jimmy Carter’s administration and was involved in the air traffic controller’s strike under President Ronald Reagan.
While working in Melrose, Officer O’Donnell earned a bachelor’s degree in policing from Northeastern University, followed by a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Western New England University.