When he first joined the Watertown Police, Michael Lawn did not plan to make a career of it, but 27 years later he was sworn in as the town’s new Police Chief.
Friends, family and fellow officers filled the Watertown Middle School Auditorium Thursday afternoon to wish Lawn well as he takes over leadership of the Watertown Police Department.
“I want to say how excited I am to represent Watertown as the Chief of Police,” Lawn said at the conclusion of his speech. “I am truly honored to be here today and I am very thankful for this opportunity.”
He thanked the former chiefs who he has served under, including most recently Edward Deveau. Lawn also thanked Capt. Raymond Dupuis for serving as acting chief for six months while the search for the new chief was conducted.
He said the Police Department will take on the problems facing the town, such as heroin and opiate addiction and mental illness.
Community policing is another priority for Lawn, who was one of the town’s first Community Police officers and was part of the WPD’s mountain bike patrol officers – a program he would like to restore. He also founded the Police Athletic League and Cops for Kids program in town, said Town Manager Michael Driscoll.
Lawn said he wants to strengthen the relationships and partnerships the Watertown Police have established in town. He added that it is important for the police to have relationships with all the diverse communities in town.
“We need to reach out to every segment of our population to make sure they feel comfortable with the police,” Lawn said. “Tolerance and respect goes a long way for how police treat the public but also how the public treats the police.”
The Police Department’s action speak loudly, too. Lawn said he is always telling people about “how great this police department is. I talk about the truly great things that we do for people do every single day.”
He pointed to some of the many kinds acts of Watertown’s officers, such as reaching into their own pockets to donate to a child with cancer, making sure no child goes without a gift at Christmas or buying a homeless person a meal.
A Police Family
Policing runs in the Lawn family. His father, John, served on the Watertown Police, and his sister Teresa served on the department before she had her family, according to Dupuis.
Lawn grew up on a street that backs onto the current police station, and his mother Mary still lives there. He told the audience that during a recent St. Patrick’s Day his mother invited him over for corn beef and cabbage.
“I said, Ma, I’m working,” Lawn said. “So, I went through the fence.”
His parents both immigrated to Boston from Ireland in the 1960s and met after they arrived. John came to the Watertown Police, almost by chance, and served 28 years before retiring in 1992. While working a construction job, John heard about the police exam from another Irish immigrant, and that another Irishman was hired in Belmont.
“When he took the exam he was asked to list three communities where he wanted to work, but he told him don’t put down Belmont, because the guy was causing trouble over there, and they won’t hire another one of us,” Lawn said. “So, not knowing anything about Watertown he put down Watertown.”
Lawn said he was lucky enough to work for four years on the Police Department with his dad before his retirement. He died in 2002.
“I hope Dad is looking down on us today,” Lawn said.
Lawn thanked his brothers and sisters – State Rep. John Lawn, Teresa, Maureen, Sheila (who is an Assistant Clerk Magistrate) and Kevin, who flew in from Los Angeles for the ceremony.
He gave special thanks to his wife and their children, Ryan, Matthew and Patrick.
“I want to thank my family – my wife Karen and our sons – for their support over the years,” Lawn said. “The long hours and late phone calls.”