Retired Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes Leaves the Department Better Than Ever.January 15, 2020
With a 42-year career in law enforcement including ten years as Police Chief in Weymouth, Richard Grimes left a legacy of commitment to the community; a reputation for professionalism and pride in the Weymouth Police Department; a successful K9 division; and a web of connections to the greater law enforcement community.
Weymouth Police Chief Richard Grimes retired on Tuesday, December 31, reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65, and Capt. Richard Fuller was sworn in as the town’s next chief of police on Jan. 2.
“Chief Grimes led Weymouth through one of its darkest times when Officer Michael Chesna was murdered while on duty in July of 2018. He was there for the family and the community through thick and thin,” said Co-President Dennis Keohane. “He was always invested in the community of Weymouth and dealt with people with dignity and compassion.”
Leading by example has been Grime’s leadership style which continues even in retirment. When we spoke with him, he was still involved in collective bargaining negotiations. “I’d hoped to have things wrapped up before I left, but I’m still working on it,” said Chief Grimes, honoring his commitment to the department even after stepping down from it.
From K9 Handler to Police Chief
Even as a young police officer, Chief Grimes was instrumental in developing the Weymouth Police Department’s canine division – a family legacy that continues to this day. His son is currently a K9 handler in Plymouth County.
In 1977, Grimes began his law enforcement career in Scituate, the town where he grew up. He made a lateral transfer in 1982 to the Weymouth police department, becoming involved in the motorcycle division, including traffic and accident reconstruction. But Grimes was interested in the department’s police canine program. “I’ve always had dogs when I was growing up, and it always interested me,” said Grimes.
However, the Weymouth canine position was cut during a difficult financial period at the department. Grimes decided to put in his own time and money in hopes that the position would be reinstated. “I got a puppy from the Sheriff’s dept and raised it myself,” said Grimes. He enrolled in the Plymouth County’s patrol dog school in 1995 and completed the sixteen-week program for police dog certification on his own time.
“I finally got the department to committ to the program in March of 1996,” said Grimes. “I had a very rewarding and successful canine career.” During that time, Grimes was promoted twice, from patrol to sargent and then to lieutenant. When he accepted the promotions, he insisted on continuing to serve as the department’s K9 handler, an unusual request at the time.
“I really enjoyed my years in the patrol division and coming up through the ranks and getting to work my dogs,” he said. “I was able to help other canine divisions get started in other departments. We were able to start many additional programs in the Southeastern Mass area.”
Chief Grimes is partial to German Shepherds. His working dog, Heilig, was a German Shephard as are his current pets, a large male named Jager and a female, Charley. The Weymouth police department now has two patrol dogs, three narcotics-detection dogs and a sixth dog in training.
In 2009, the police chief’s position became available. As an internal candidate, Grimes had a known track record in the police department, including commander of special operations.
“We didn’t have a permanent chief when I came in,” said Grimes. The permanent chief had left a year prior and the provisional chief went out in March of 2009. Capt. Brian Callahan then led the department as interim chief. When Callahan went out on medical leave, Grimes applied for the chief’s position and was tapped for the job.
One of his proudest accomplishments as the Chief of Police was shifting the culture of the job over time. Chief Grimes held many different positions as he came up through the ranks, so he had a good deal of background knowledge when he “went upstairs” to an administration position. From there, he saw some issues that needed fixing, such as police officers taking advantage of sick days. “It’s fifteen sick days, not fifeteen vacation days,” explained Grimes.
Always leading by example, Chief Grimes retired on New Year’s Eve with every sick day from his entire career. “I never used a sick day in forty-two years,” he said.
To shore up the department, Chief Grimes promoted a good, strong command staff, using merit and not politics as a guide for promotions. After five years as chief, he started to see the benefits of his efforts with the command staff who in turn stepped up and took on their resposibilities with pride. “The department started to take a good turn,” he said.
He put in many long days as a young chief. Another proud accomplishment during that time was being invited to attend the FBI’s National Academy in West Virginia – less than one percent of the law enforcement community gets that opportunity. The program lasted three months during which time he lived on Marine Corps Base Quantico. It included both physical training and classroom training. In conjunction with the University of Virginia, the program included credit for four classes.
When Chief Grimes returned to Massachusetts, he continued the relationships he cultivated at the FBI National academy. He worked his way up through the local organization, becoming President of the New England Chapter.
He implemented a regional motorcycle division for the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council’s moblie operations division employing 46 cities and towns and served on the organization’s executive board. Chief Grimes was also on the Executive Board of the Major City Chiefs Association for Massachusetts.
Those relationships in the larger law enforcement community became invaluable, especially in times of crisis, such as the death of a police officer killed in the line of duty, Michael Davey, in 2009 and the murder of Officer Michael Chesna in July of 2018.
Chief Grimes said he was blessed to be able to take care of his police officers and his community during those dark times. “We continue to move forward,” said Chief Grimes. “It hasn’t ended.”