WILMINGTON, MA — After 31 years of service to the Town of Wilmington, Police Chief Michael Begonis will be retiring on April 5, 2019 to take a job in the private sector.
Begonis, a Wilmington native, joined the Police Department in 1988 and rose up the ranks, fulfilling the duties of patrol officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, deputy chief, and – since 2005 – chief.
The Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Jeff Hull recognized Begonis during its meeting on Monday night. Begonis was present with his wife Pauline and sons Jack and Michael.
“The respect that people have for you is just amazing,” said Selectmen Chair Kevin Caira, noting his relationship with Begonis goes “way back” to their childhoods. “You will be truly missed for everything you do. I can’t say enough about the outstanding work you’ve done here in Wilmington over the years. You’re the best department head we have.”
“You’re a class act,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “You’ve done a great job. I wish you all the best of luck. Having you as Chief was great for the Town of Wilmington. And forget about being Police Chief, you’re just a great human being.”
“We’re very proud of you. We’re very grateful for your years of leadership here and four military service before you were an officer,” added Selectman Greg Bendel. “We can’t say enough about you as a person. You’ve been a role model and mentor to me. You always picked up the phone when I called with a question…. We really appreciate you. We wish you well.”
“Some highlights of Mike’s accomplishments include the accreditation of the department, the establishment of the firing range up in North Wilmington, and looking at substance abuse not in the typical law enforcement manner where you pursue it as a crime, but look at it for what it is – a mental health issue — and the establishment of the substance abuse program,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull. “Mike and I have disagreed on a number of things over the years. It’s nice to have department heads that don’t always agree with you. It’s important to have folks tell you the way it is… I appreciate your dedication to the job.”
In addition to thanking the Selectmen and Town Manager, Chief Begonis thanked his family and his work family.
“Police Chief is obviously a crazy job. You serve many masters in the process and you always try to do it with the upmost dignity and respect. I have to say – [my wife] is my strength. I couldn’t have done a minute of this job without my wife,” said an emotional Begonis. “It’s so special to know you can go through whatever you go through when you’re out doing the job, but can go home to someone who always has your back.
“I’ve got another family. And it’s the Police Department itself. All of those successes that I’ve been able to work on. Nothing was done on my own. There was collective vision and a collective effort,” added Begonis. “There are several individuals ready to move up in the ranks. Leadership is selflessness. You’re willing to step up and do things for others beore doing things for yourself. The Town of Wilmington is in a really good place with individuals ready to move up the ranks in the Police Department.”
Selectmen then gave Begonis a letter of commendation and posed for a group photo.
Lt. Joseph Desmond Named Interim Acting Police Chief
Town Manager Jeff Hull announced the appointment of Lt. Joseph Desmond as Interim Acting Police Chief. Desmond has been with the Wilmington Police Department for 30+ years, starting in 1988 and moved up through the ranks.
“He will do a very good job for us on an interim basis… I’m confident we’ll be in good hands,” said Hull. “Then through the civil service process, we’ll have an assessment center…. It’s slated for May 20. An appointment for a permanent position will be made sometime in the end of June/beginning of July.”
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