To the Melrose Community,

It has been the honor of a lifetime to work for you.

Since 1986, when I joined the Melrose Police Department as a rookie patrol officer, I have watched over and gotten to know this city, its great people, residents, business owners, visitors, school children and, of course, my fellow officers who work so hard and sacrifice so much in a life of service.

The Melrose Police Department has enabled me to grow as a professional. I was able to attend graduate school, earning a master’s degree in 1997 and then I was able to attend the amazing FBI National Academy program in Virginia, which features perhaps the best 10 weeks of training that a prospective police leader can hope for. The city and its leaders — alderman and councilors as well as mayors — have supported a robust scope of training and professionalism that has made policing better, stronger and more able to meet its goals of keeping people not only safe but well in a vibrant community.

Wellness is just as important as security. In Melrose, we have ushered in and championed programs that support those with cognitive disabilities, those suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder, and those in our community suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Policing is a challenging job because our citizens call 911 rightly expecting that a person in uniform will come to help them, no matter what the emergency or problem. And in Melrose, we take pride in doing just that.

Our next chief is lucky to have the opportunity to lead the Melrose Police Department. The men and women of this agency are highly skilled and dedicated officers and civilians at every level. Thank you for allowing me to serve the community and citizens of Melrose as Chief.

My advice to the next chief would be to embrace the community and support the people of this great department. Set goals every day, and see how they are accomplished.

Policing has evolved as our society has. I watched us go from pen and paper to computers and tablets. I walked a beat, calling into the station on those ubiquitous blue, hard-wired call boxes.

I cherished my work as a Melrose Police officer and dedicated most of my adult life to this one agency.  My next chapter is just starting, and we will see where life takes me. Honestly, I feel that policing is the best job in the world if you approach it right mindset. That is one of the things that kept me going for so long–our officers and civilian staff. Every day, they come into work with just that mindset. I will miss walking into the station in the morning and seeing that buzz of activity and energy.

Policing has faced enormous challenges during the final years of my career. The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented test for first responders who rose to the challenge. Some of my most lasting memories of 2020 will be linked to the officers, firefighters and medics who went into houses where people were positive for COVID-19, in those earliest and most deadly days of the pandemic.

But in that same year of bravery and dedication came one of our profession’s darkest hours. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers shook policing and society to its core. It’s not enough to merely condemn these acts. Our challenge is to show, every day, that our own actions stand in contrast to the hate and violence we have witnessed.

Some of my work will continue. I have already been asked — and have happily agreed — to continue to manage the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association’s annual golf tournament, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for The Jimmy Fund. That has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am proud to help raise money and awareness for such a worthwhile cause.

I have had a lot of people come up to me over the past few months expressing gratitude and well wishes. If you feel that I have given something back to the community that I love so much, I thank you. However, it’s my wife, Eileen Lloyd Lyle, who has given the most and deserves the most gratitude. My retirement marks a noble conclusion to the lifetime of sacrifices that Eileen has made to the profession of policing and to the City of Melrose. When I was named chief, Eileen knew exactly what that would entail for us, as I had become the third member of her family to serve Melrose as its police chief. She has given so much to this city, and she has been my rock and the best partner I could ask for all these years. I can only hope that our two dogs, Bailey and Fenway, keep me busy enough so that I don’t drive her crazy in retirement!

Thank you to our MPD Executive Office Manager Kim Upton who, like many in her profession, is overworked and underpaid but very well appreciated.

Thank you as well to my assistant, Debbie MacLeod,  for her dedication and support during my tenure as chief.

I worked under many administrations over the years and have worked alongside some truly noble leaders. Mayor Dick Lyons presided over a financially turbulent time, but he protected the police department from layoffs and kept public safety whole in Melrose. Finally, Mayor James E. Milano, the mayor who swore me in as a patrol officer in 1986. I will never forget the note that he wrote to me, which I still have. It said “I hope I live long enough to see you become Chief Mike” I’m proud to say you did. Thank you Jim, and thanks for keeping an eye on me from up there.

John Guilfoil is the Principal Owner of JGPR. Tweet @johnguilfoil or email him.