By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
NORTHBOROUGH — Town leaders remembered former Northborough Police Chief Kenneth Hutchins during a Board of Selectmen meeting July 19.
“I have a lot of respect for the man,” said current Police Chief William Lyver. “His family are just wonderful people. He will be missed.”
Hutchins, who was 80, passed away in his Northborough home on July 2 after a 20-year battle with various cancers, according to his obituary.
“Chief Hutchins is a very well-known pillar in the community,” Board of Selectmen Chair Jason Perreault said. “The Hutchins family — we certainly extend our condolences to the family.”
Hutchins was born in Norwood, Mass. He served in the Navy on the USS Cassin Young after he graduated from Walpole High School.
After he married his wife, Priscilla, the pair joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which led Hutchins to enroll at Brigham Young University and receive degrees in criminal justice and political science.
Hutchins served as a police officer in Utah, Colorado and Massachusetts.
Lyver said Hutchins had been recruited to go to Lakewood, Co., an unincorporated community outside of a nearby city. That meant Lakewood didn’t have a real police department or substantial city infrastructure.
Lyver said Hutchins was brought into the newly-formed department as a lieutenant, where he additionally commanded the department’s homicide unit and SWAT team.
After several years, though, Hutchins wanted to return home to the east, Lyver said.
In Northborough, the previous chief had retired and the town was conducting a nationwide search for a new chief. It chose Hutchins.
Hutchins worked in the Northborough Police Department for 23 years. In that time, he appointed Lyver to the department in a full-time role.
“I won’t say that he made sweeping changes, but he was a very forward-thinking, innovative leader,” Lyver said.
Lyver gave examples.
Hutchins made all of the town’s cruisers the same color. A new station was also built.
The department used to have only two portable radios. So, some officers would come into the office early to make sure that they would get one.
Within a couple of years of Hutchins being at the Northborough department, everyone had a portable radio, Lyver said.
“He implemented programs that some departments are just starting to do now back in the early 80s,” Lyver said. “…He brought some really advanced thinking to police work.”
Some of those programs included community policing, civilian police academies and school resource officers, a position that Lyver held.
Hutchins created a support network, resources for parents to raise their kids and a student safety network to regularly meet to create action plans with students and their families having difficulties. A different version of that program exists at Algonquin Regional High School today, Lyver said.
“He was the kind of man that basically just wanted to make you do the right thing for the right reasons all the time, even when no one was looking,” Lyver said. “He made you want to excel. He made you want to do well.”