Coffee with a Cop: Meet Weston’s New Chief of Police Denis Linehan
Last Friday, on a gorgeous late spring day, the Owl met Weston”s new Chief of Police, Denis Linehan, for a coffee at the Weston Bistro. Okay, the coffee was from Heirloom because the Bistro is BYOB. And F. And CP (chess pieces). We covered many topics from small town policing to large city, from Latin America (it’ll make sense later) to our town’s “most popular” criminal activities and the Chief’s top priorities. If you don’t want to read on, I can sum it up right now: we’re in good hands, Weston. But really, how can you resist reading on? You can’t.
Chief Linehan was born and raised in the Granite State, aka the Live Free or Die state, aka the state where I am most likely to be caught in a major storm while hiking on an exposed mountainside–what is up with that weather? And as is true of 80% of cops (I just made up that statistic), he is from a police enforcement family–his grandfather was a police officer in Manchester. And now his son is a police officer in Nashua.
After graduating high school in Manchester, New Hampshire, the not-yet-Chief Linehan decided to take on the worst-traffic-driving-state in the nation, and went to Northeastern in the co-op program, graduating with a Criminal Justice degree. His first job was in US Immigration, a job he didn’t love, so he applied for a police job in Nashua when there wasn’t any opening in Manchester. Now ask the Owl if she knows the difference between Nashua and Manchester and the answer will be nope. Lemme see: Manchester is population 112,000, on the Merrimack River, and has a nice museum called the Currier. Nashua is population 91,000, sits right on the MA border and has twice been named the Money Magazine Best Place to Live in the US. Wait, what? Let me see that again. Yes, true–1987 and 1998.
After joining Nashua’s police department, he was made detective and worked in the plain-clothes street crime division which worked with the narcotics team, assisted in locating fugitives and generally worked where needed in the three major divisions. The Owl learned so much here and it was neither a Suzanne Brockmann novel, nor a TV series so probably actually real stuff. Alas, no Ice-T. The three divisions…do you know what they are? Tick-Tock Weston, time’s up. There is Criminal Investigations Division or CID which is all about murders and investigating them, then there is Narcotics and then Special Investigation Unit which deals with domestics and children. Okay, there, that sums up my knowledge of police-y stuff, which is second only to mathy stuff.
“The opportunities to learn in Nashua were many–I would say my career was not totally straight-line,” says Chief Linehan. “In New Hampshire, it is common to move from detective to patrol and back again, and other roles came my way such as Commander of SWAT/Bomb Squad.”
The Chief then completed a Masters degree in Administrative Studies at Boston College, and then onwards to roles as detective-sargent, then lieutenant captain and finally deputy chief of Field Operations, in charge of 130 uniformed officers.
In 2016, the Chief attended an international program at Quantico, which figures BIG in Suzanne Brockmann books. It figures big because there is always romance there in FBI-land, and things were no different for the Chief. He met his wife there, who was with the Costa Rican police, and majorly kick-ass. Yes, of course the Chief and I got diverted to talk about life with Latin American spouses (Mr. Owl is Brazilian) and then onwards to talk about the Yellow Brick Road obstacle course which is based on the Wizard of Oz, and unless it involves being squashed by a house, there is no way the Owl would pass the test.
Anyway, I’m not going to tell you all about that conversation because it’s personal, people. Though I will say I insist that we meet the Chief’s wife at some event. Oh wait, that would have been the Swearing-In event that the Owl was not invited to attend, in spite of being the Official Media Sponsor of the Weston Police (not actually true).
In case anyone is still following along the career trajectory, the Chief came to Weston from Avon, a town that I know nothing about, sandwiched as it is between other towns the Owl knows nothing about. What happends in Abington or Holbroook. Wait, hold the phone, there seems to be a restaurant called the Lobster Barn close by–they may win over Weston’s car barns. In any case, that was a three-year visit to Avon when he got the call to Weston.
The Chief then went on to talk about what he considered his priorities in Weston. These are the top four:
- Keep Weston Safe. This is a combination of getting/continuing the best training for Weston’s officers, acting with empathy and treating people fairly. It is a continual assessment of how the police department is doing. Recent crime issues in Weston have been vehicle break-ins to steal catalytic converters (!!!) – something that started about 2 years ago, and most popular vehicles are “high-up” SUVs or landscaping and DPW vehicles. Also Priuses (see image below). Another popular crime is car break-ins by an organized crime group from Florida (named the Felony Lane Gang) that is breaking into cars, especially at trail heads and popular parking spots where people may leave valuables, and using stolen identification and credit cards to pass bad checks. In case anyone is monitoring, high school parties have not been too crazy this spring, and domestic violence numbers are also down for a high during the pandemic.
- Complete the accreditation process for Weston Police. This was started by the prior Chief Goulding, but is a long process of documenting and getting approved policies and procedures for everything you can think of in police work. 350 regulations need policies and procedures–but before that 200 standards need to be approved in the certification process (let me know if I’m getting too math-y). An example would be procedures for a vehicle pursuit–what needs to be done and in what order. Certification may be complete later this year, and then it is on to accreditation.
- Retain the amazing talent already present in the Weston police. As many of us know, it is difficult to hire and maintain talent in this tough market, and especially with recent events making police work not look the most appealing.
- Community engagement. This means more coffees with cops! No, not really, it means a police department that is a trusted and integral part of our community. Also a police comfort dog. What? No? Sigh. Knox would not like that I brought up that idea.
As has been true since the Owl moved to Weston eight years ago, I have found that Weston’s police department is approachable, helpful and always accepting of feedback and commentary. Maybe not about the comfort dog. Until you have lived in a big town, where no one has time for coffee with the community, you don’t know how lucky we are here with our community police force.
Please join the Owl in welcoming Chief Linehan to Weston!
Am I correct that the Weston Police will continue to keep a social worker either part or full time?
Hi, I haven’t heard any differently. As you know Kate O’Donnell is “shared” between Wellesley and Weston…have you heard something the Owl hasn’t?
Loved your coffee w/ a cop article & especially all your witty commentary! Enjoy your well deserved vacation!