NORTHBOROUGH – After serving with the Northborough Police Department for over 40 years, Police Chief William Lyver worked his last shift on Dec. 29.
Lyver recently sat down with the Community Advocate to reflect on his tenure with the department.
Lyver’s employment with Northborough started in 1977 as a call firefighter, and two years later, he became a special police officer. He was actually offered a full-time position with both the fire department and police department.
“As I got a little bit older, I decided I was really more interested in law enforcement,” Lyver said. “I made that decision to stay with the police department, and here we are.”
His full-time career with the Northborough Police Department began in 1983 after he was hired by Chief Kenneth Hutchins. Lyver recalled that one of Hutchins’ first announcements was that he wouldn’t hire Northborough residents as police officers because he felt it would be a conflict of interest.
“People were too well-connected in small towns to be totally impartial, but he yielded on that and hired me and a couple other guys,” Lyver recalled.
There have always been people who grew up in Northborough who then went on to serve with the Northborough Police Department. In addition to Lyver, that also includes the new Police Chief Brian Griffin.
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After he graduated from the academy, Lyver came to work in the department fulltime and was assigned to the day shift. In 1988, he became a patrolman assigned to the department’s detective bureau as the school liaison officer and juvenile detective. According to Lyver, Northborough was one of the first departments in Massachusetts to have a school liaison officer.
“That was probably the busiest job I’ve ever had, dealing with the middle school students, Algonquin students,” said Lyver.
He served in this role until 1996 when he was promoted to sergeant before later becoming the detective sergeant, which he served in for 10 years. Following the retirement of thenLieutenant Edward “Dusty” Shead in 2008, Lyver was promoted to lieutenant.
“And the rest, as they say, is history,” Lyver said.
Lyver had actually given his notice for retirement to the town once prior. He had gotten a job with National Grid as a gas pipe safety liaison, and at the same time, Chief Mark Leahy was in the running to become the executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, which meant that he would be retiring from Northborough.
He turned in his retirement notice, and his last day was going to be same day as Lyver’s. Lyver received a call from the town administrator, asking if he would be interested in staying on as chief of the department.
“I have to tell you, I have never had any inkling or desire to have to be a chief. Some people their life isn’t complete until they become chief or the boss. I was very happy retiring as a lieutenant,” said Lyver.
Reflecting on his time, Lyver said he was proud of the department as a whole.
“We have phenomenal people,” he said.
He also said he was proud of the department’s relationship with Communities for Restorative Justice, which he said allows the department to divert juveniles and younger offenders away from the criminal justice system into a structured diversion program. According to Lyver, as part of the program, everyone who has a stake in the incident meets.
Lyver had seen a presentation by Executive Director Erin Freeborn.
“It sounded like that’s perfect for today,” he recalled.
Lyver was also proud to have a co-response clinician. Initiated by Westborough, the clinician is shared with Northborough and Southborough. The goal is to divert individuals with mental health and substance use disorder away from criminal justice and into local support networks.
The officers have since said that they now feel more confident dealing with mental health issue, he said.
“The techniques that they’ve picked up from the clinicians on de-escalation and calming people – to me, that was a win-win, obviously,” Lyver said.
Now looking ahead to his retirement, Lyver, who has four grandkids, said that he will be “grandpa daycare” and every day will be a Saturday.
“I’ll probably just enjoy the fact that I’m retired for a while, but then I’ll probably end up doing something on a part-time basis,” he said.