SOUTH PORTLAND — Daniel J. Ahern, a longtime member of the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Police Department, is the new police chief for the South Portland Department. He replaces Timothy Sheehan, who resigned as chief in April 2021 after 14 months with the city. When Ahern is sworn in, he will become the eighth permanent chief in the city’s history.

The South Portland Police Department sent out a news release on Jan.12 announcing Ahern as the new police chief. Ahern will begin his duties on Feb.1, following an official swearing-in ceremony. 

“Here in Chelmsford, I am the deputy chief, so I have yet to be a police chief and have the honor of leading a police department,” said Aheran. “When I decided to take that next step, I was looking around and South Portland was on the International Association Chief of Police Station; they post job openings.

“South Portland was there, and I am a friend of former Police Chief Sheehan and reached out to him. He couldn’t say enough good things about the police department, a lot of great praise and I jumped in and saw it as a great fit. My wife Sarah and I are excited about finding another home up there in Maine and getting settled in and getting to work.” 

After several months and significant changes over the past couple of months, City Manager Scott Morelli said that Ahern was selected from a field of nine applicants. The city sent five of these candidates through an assessment center conducted by Municipal Resources, Inc. The city then selected the top three candidates for interviews. 

The three finalists were interviewed by a panel of city and civic leaders that included Morelli, Human Resources Director Stephanie Weaver, Fire Chief James Wilson, City Clerk Emily Scully, Interim Chief James DiGianvittorio, and four members of the Civil Service Commission, Lee Harvey, Vincent Maietta, Pedro Vazquez and Brendan Williams. 


“We were really impressed,” Morelli said. “He obviously has a long history of service including a significant amount of time in a leadership position as deputy chief in Chelmsford and he also has a very good education. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. His demeanor and his answers to the questions just led us to believe that he was an overall good candidate to lead this department.

“We only had nine folks apply, but we did have a handful of good candidates to choose from, but he just rose to the top because of those factors.”

Ahern has 27 years of law enforcement experience, a master’s degree in public administration from Anna Maria College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is also a graduate from the 277th session of the FBI National Academy. Ahern served as deputy police chief in Chelmsford since 2014 and has been a member of that department since 1994. Ahern is also known for his talents in directing operations, state accreditation, officer wellness, policy review and adaptation, mental health and substance use disorder training.  

“I have worked for 28 years here at the same police department I have done every job there is to do,” Ahern said. “I am very proud of the accreditation that we received back in 2010, I was the accreditation manager for that. I am very proud of our officer wellness program and hope to bring a lot of what I know about officer wellness there to South Portland. I commanded our honor guard for many years and very proud of that; I rose through the rank’s sergeant, lieutenant, and then deputy chief in 2016 and I have done that for seven and a half years now.”

Since Sheehan’s retirement, there have been two interim chiefs. Former Deputy Police Chief Amy Berry served from April to August until her retirement from the department. The city then reached out to DiGianvittorio to serve as an interim chief. DiGianvittorio is a retired police chief from Middleton, Massachusetts. 

“He is going to have to kind of steady the ship sort of speak when he gets here and also has the challenge of needing to move the department forward as well and take on some of the big issues the department is facing,” Morelli said of Ahern. “Recruitment right now is a big issue and it’s not just for us it’s everywhere, but we’re down a number of officers and that’s a concern, we also need to make sure that we continue to maintain our high standards of accreditation.


“Those are just quickly some of the things he is going to need to help us move forward with and continue to maintain trust within the community and build those lines of communication. It’s a good feeling to have these two positions filled but there is a lot of work for them to do.” 

Ahern is currently working at the Chelmsford Police Department until he takes over next month. Once sworn in, he will spend a week working with DiGianvittorio to aid him with the transition. 

“We are going to work a transitional week for myself and him working through some of the budget process and a few other things,” said DiGianvittorio. 

 Ahern will be paid an annual salary of $127,504. An announcement will be made as to when the official swearing-in ceremony will take place. The city manager and the police department are still deciding what would be best due to the pandemic.  

“My initial focus really is going to know the people there at the police department,” Ahern said. “Everyone I need to work hard to earn their trust and then, of course, I need to build some relationships with other members of the community and leaders within the community. City Manager Scott Morelli has shown confidence in me, and I appreciate that. I look forward to the opportunity to bring my experience and my knowledge to an already strong police team … and hope with that experience and that knowledge I’ll help strengthen the police department.”

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