Waterville police Deputy Chief William Bonney, left, and Chief Joseph Massey in 2016 announce the start of Operation HOPE — Heroin Opiate Prevention Effort — at a news conference. Massey, who is retiring Wednesday, says the program is one of the biggest accomplishments of his 15 years as chief. Bonney has expressed interest in applying to succeed Massey, according to City Manager Steve Daly. Morning Sentinel file photo

WATERVILLE — Police Chief Joseph Massey will retire Wednesday after 36 years as city officials look to reassess the Police Department, with an eye toward possible modifications in light of societal changes and public needs.

Massey, 70, said Monday he retires this week with mixed emotions.

“It has been an honor and privilege to have served the Waterville community for so long,” he wrote in an email. “I have been fortunate to be part of so many positive changes the city has gone through during my time here, such as the ongoing revitalization of the downtown. Having come up through the ranks has allowed me to engage and work with a very diverse population of the community.”

Deputy Chief William Bonney will serve as interim chief until a new chief is named. Bonney, 46, has been with the department for 25 years, the last seven as deputy chief, and before that was a sergeant for nine years.

Bonney said Monday he did not want to comment on the search for a new chief because he is a potential applicant. He said as deputy chief, he has a good understanding of the day-to-day operations of the department, and in his interim role, he is looking to work with the community, officers and members of the support staff.

Bonney, who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, has served in every role within the department, including supervisor of the school resource officer position. He said he enjoyed his time serving as South End community police officer several years ago.


He was due to retire from the department in December, but that was before Massey announced he would be retiring.

The City Council in October approved a contract for up to $40,000 with the International Association of Chiefs of Police to review the Police Department, intending to help chart its future growth and development. That assessment is ongoing and Mayor Jay Coelho said Monday he expects it to be completed and a report issued in February or March.

The report is expected to guide the city in making possible changes to policing, which could include a restructuring of the department, Coelho said.

Changes could include eliminating the position of deputy police chief, instituting a captain’s position and having officers do more community policing. Coelho said the report should also guide the city in determining how many officers the department should have for a community the size of Waterville, which has many people coming into the city every day.

The department now has 31 police officers, including the chief and deputy chief. That is consistent with FBI statistics showing that New England communities with close to Waterville’s population — about 16,000 — have 1.9 officers for every 1,000 residents.

But Waterville is estimated to have about 35,000 people in the city during the day, many of whom come for work or other purposes, and the city is considered a service center that draws those who rely on a variety of health and other services.


Coelho said a nationwide search for a new chief will happen after the assessment report is in. The city will probably use the International Association of Chiefs of Police for the search, according to City Manager Steve Daly.

“So there’s a confluence of things happening we just need to be flexible and nimble about,” Daly said, adding that Bonney has shown an interest in applying for the position. “He’s going to stay on as interim chief and deal with what the results of the assessment are. We’re going to do a search to get the best chief that we can find, and if it turns out to be Bill, it’s Bill.”

Daly said Monday that Massey, who has been chief for 15 years, is “right at the top of the list of police chiefs I’ve worked with in the past, and there have been quite a few.”

“His integrity is second to none,” Daly said, “and his commitment to Waterville and the people of Waterville has been amazing during his tenure as chief and prior to that.

“His loyalty to the city is outstanding, and he’s done a lot of fabulous things throughout his career, not the least of which is Operation HOPE, and he martialed in the new police station.”

Massey said he leaves the Police Department with fond memories, and is honored to have worked with dedicated, professional men and women.


“All the significant accomplishments achieved in my time here, such as the construction of a new public safety facility in 2013, new firearms range, mobile command vehicle, crisis negotiation team, K-9 unit and innovated programs, such as the mental health midnight team, prescription drug diversion program and our hallmark program — Operation HOPE that provides treatment for those suffering from opiate addiction — have all have been a team effort,” he said.

City Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, congratulated Massey on Monday, saying, “He has done a fabulous job of leading the department for the past 15 years, but a lot has changed in that time.”

“This is the perfect moment to take a fresh look at how we can have a Police Department that is equipped to handle the complex problems we face, from the growth of Waterville in general to the opioid epidemic and mental health issues to homelessness,” Green said. “Some of these are really social work issues that police have traditionally had no training for.

“I look forward to hearing ideas for how our department can be staffed with the right mix of skills and administrative structure to provide public safety for all.”

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