John MacDonald

COVENTRY — After 25 years of service with the Coventry Police Department, the department’s chief has announced plans to hang up his hat. 

“My goal when I became police chief was to leave the Coventry Police Department a better place than when I started,” Col. John MacDonald, whose last day on the job will be Feb. 28, wrote in a letter to the community.

Appointed in 2015 as the town’s 14th chief of police, MacDonald said he’d had no plans to retire from the department. But on learning in November that he’d been selected to serve as the next State Army Aviation Officer with the Rhode Island Army National Guard, he decided it was a position he couldn’t pass up.

“This is a rare, unexpected opportunity to enter the full time force at the senior officer level,” MacDonald wrote in his letter. 

MacDonald has served for more than 28 years in the National Guard, where he currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He’s been a helicopter pilot since 1995 and has served twice overseas in the Global War on Terror. 

As for leaving the department a better place than it was when he arrived, MacDonald has striven over the years to ensure that happens. 

When he was appointed chief, MacDonald helped the department develop a strategic plan that included, among numerous other goals, securing public support for the new police headquarters that officially opened last month at 60 Wood Street. And through bringing that project to fruition, MacDonald said, the department has been able to meet many of its other objectives.

In addition to achieving accreditation last year through the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission, MacDonald added that the department has improved its cyber protection posture, its human resources management and its investigative abilities. That department has also, he said, greatly improved its school safety posture and its connection to the community. 

In his letter, MacDonald spoke highly of the department’s patrol officers, detectives and support staff members.

“Coventry residents should be proud and assured that they are well served by this group of law enforcement professionals,” he said, adding that it’s “been an honor to wear the uniform of the Coventry Police Department” next to each one of them.

MacDonald also thanked members of both the town council and the building committee, staff and residents of the Department of Human Services and the local Emergency Management Team, as well as Interim Town Manager Ed Warzycha.

“John is a vital member of the town of Coventry management team and family,” Warzycha wrote in a press release. “He has always gone above and beyond to serve the people of Coventry.” 

MacDonald called his time in Coventry “extremely rewarding.”

“I want to thank the amazing community of Coventry for all their support for our department,” MacDonald continued in his letter, adding that his priority over the coming weeks will be to provide any support he can in this transition period.

Recruitment efforts to find MacDonald’s successor are currently underway, Warzycha said. 

“It has been a privilege to lead this outstanding organization,” MacDonald wrote, “and I hope that I leave it a better place for having served.”

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