Town Manager Announces Watertown’s New Police Chief

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Charlie Breitrose

Michael Lawn, the new police chief, shown here addressing the media while at a crime scene.

Michael Lawn, the new police chief, shown here addressing the media while at a crime scene.

Charlie Breitrose

Michael Lawn, the new police chief, shown here addressing the media while at a crime scene.

Police Lt. Michael Lawn has has been appointed Watertown’s new Police Chief by Town Manager Michael Driscoll. 

The process to replace Edward Deveau started in the fall, and six candidates – two captains and four lieutenants – went through a day-long Assessment Center where they were judged on how they would deal with real-world situations.

The six candidates were ranked based on their scores on the assessment center. Lawn, who has been on the force for 26 years, Lt. Daniel Unsworth and Lt. Justin Hanrahan (both with 18 years of experience) were the finalists. The three then went through two rounds of interviews.

The Council’s Committee on Public Safety had several areas they wanted the assessment center to cover, and on which to judge the candidates. The points were:

  • A demonstrated commitment to Community Policing
  • A history of connecting to minority and other marginalized communities
  • Ability to work well with schools and social service agencies and to provide leadership in inter-departmental initiatives such as the current opiate crisis, healthy aging, criminal justice reform, gun safety, and mental health issues
  • Ability and commitment to implement non-violent and non-militarized intervention
  • Has a vision for Watertown’s future and the ability and flexibility to communicate it
  • Is responsive to residential concerns (large and small), including being cognizant of the department’s role in traffic and ordinance enforcement

The candidates were also judged on how they met the best police practices laid out in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, published in May 2015. The pillars are: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer safety and wellness.

Driscoll said that he believed that Lawn best met the criteria laid out by the Public Safety Committee and the goals of the federal policing report.

“I believe the appointment of Lt. Lawn is in the best interest of the Town of Watertown and the Watertown Police Department,” Driscoll wrote in his announcement. “Michael P. Lawn has served as a lieutenant in the Watertown Police department for more than 13 years and has gained the necessary experience to assume the role of Police Chief.”

Currently, Lawn serves as commander of the day-shift Patrol Division, and before that he served as Commander of the Detective Division. He also has served as the Police Department’s spokesman and deals with the media.

He holds a masters degree in criminal justice and was one of the department’s first community police officers, serving from 1996-99. Lawn also was the founder and organizer of the Police Athletic League in Watertown and assisted in developing the Cops for Kids program at Watertown Middle School, and was an instructor in the Citizens Police Academy.

Lawn is the brother of State Rep. John Lawn and his father served on the Police Department. He is a graduate of St. Patrick’s High School in Watertown. He could not be reached for comment before the story was published.

A swearing in ceremony will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m., at the Watertown Middle School Auditorium, 68 Waverley Ave.

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