Police Chief and Interim Town Administrator in Wrentham Retires

Marjorie Turner Hollman
James Anderson
Issue Date: 
February, 2018
Article Body: 

Police Chief and Interim Town Administrator James Anderson is ready for a change. After 38 years working for the town of Wrentham, first as a patrolman, and since 2008 as the Chief of Police, Anderson has served the community and been willing to take on many roles. But now, it’s time.
“I could have worked a few more years if I wanted to,” Anderson noted in a recent interview. “I still enjoy the job, but I want to be able to enjoy my retirement.”
Anderson’s retirement from the police force was effective December 31, 2017, but Wrentham was not ready to have him simply walk out the door. The Board of Selectmen had one last job for Anderson before he signs off from his official duties. Last September Wrentham needed an interim town administrator, and the Board of Selectman turned to Anderson to fill the position.
“I met with Jerry McGovern, chair of the Board of Selectman, to talk about the hours and responsibilities,” Anderson explained. “I’d already announced my plans to retire as police chief, effective December 31. After meeting with the entire Board of Selectmen, they decided I was the right guy for the job, a three-month appointment that was extended for another three months into March. As police chief, I handled budget and personnel issues. I think they wanted me for this position for my leadership and management skills.”
Anderson will be showing up for work in Wrentham for the last time around mid-February 2018, after which the new town administrator, Kevin Sweet, a Franklin resident, will take over the reins at Town Hall.
When talking to Anderson, one hears a lot more about the people he works with than about himself. Asked about taking on the position of interim town administrator, Anderson immediately said, “I had a terrific staff at the police department, and have a terrific staff at town hall as well, which has made for a smooth transition.”
When asked for more details, he pointed out that, “I’ve found that if you deal with people the right way, it works out. The police force has had tremendous relationships with the community of Wrentham. Positive service to the community produces positive relationships.” He continued, “I’m grateful for the men and women I’ve worked with. They make me look good.”
Once Anderson’s official duties are done, he says he’d like to polish up his golf game, but he also has thoughts of teaching criminal justice part-time at the college level. Anderson surely has a lot of life experiences to share, and many lessons to teach those who aspire to enter the criminal justice profession. He noted, “Being a police office requires a lot of selfless effort and sacrifice, not only for the officer but from their family and friends as well. We see a lot of bad things that the average person would not be able to handle.”
Anderson pointed to his dad as an example of why he wanted to serve as a police officer.
“I saw my dad, Ernest Anderson, in uniform a lot when I was growing up. He was a special police officer in Wrentham, a side job. I always loved the Adam 12 and Dragnet police dramas on TV. I was clear pretty early that this is what I wanted to do. It was always my goal to rise to the level of chief. A lot of people don’t want the headaches, but I’ve loved every day of my job. I see so many people who are miserable in their job and I say, ‘Go find something else to do.’”
Raised in Wrentham, and a graduate of King Philip High School, Anderson says he has no plans to relocate after retirement, but he would be glad to spend a few months in a warmer climate over the winter. In fact, the recent storms of January were the first time in thirty-eight years that he was not out working through a storm. But when his son commented on this, he laughed. “I wasn’t working with the police force, but I was still out shoveling snow all day!”
In talking with Anderson, one gets the sense that regardless of his position, he will find ways to give back, wherever he is and whatever he does.