Newton Police Chief Set to Retire, Mayor Says

Mayor Fuller's announcement gave no indication that Chief David MacDonald's decision to retire after five years as chief had anything to do with the national conversation over policing

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Facebook/Newton Police Department

The police chief in Newton, Massachusetts, intends to retire after 27 years on the force, the city's mayor said Tuesday.

Chief David MacDonald informed Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller Tuesday morning of his plan to retire, Fuller said in a statement. The exact date has not yet been decided, but she said he had suggested he leave this summer.

The mayor's announcement said that MacDonald had long been thinking about retiring, to spend more time on his health and with his family, but she did note that the two had recently been working "closely together as we began to consider the ways in which our Department can reimagine law enforcement and be a leader in Massachusetts for just policing."

The chief's announcement comes at a fraught time for police departments across the state and the nation, as the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody sparked a reckoning on officers' relationship with their communities.

But Fuller's announcement gave no indication that MacDonald's decision to retire after five years as chief had anything to do with those issues.

MacDonald, who joined the force in 1993 as an officer, told the mayor he recognized that with a lot for the department to contend with, it was better for his successor to start early on, Fuller said.

"I understand that and appreciate that even while making this difficult decision, he again, considered the needs of the City of Newton Police Department," she said.

Newton has recently seen several protests calling for police reform and racial justice, as have communities across Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, former Northeastern University athletic director Tim Duncan shared a recent encounter with Newton police in which claimed he said officers drew their guns on him while he was simply out for a walk with his wife.

The mayor did not say if the incident had anything to do with MacDonald's decision to retire but said he had been contemplating the decision for some time.

"We were stopped by four police cars, six policemen with guns drawn," Duncan said in his video posted to social media. "Because we fit a profile, because I fit a profile."

A man was walking with his wife when he says he was suddenly swarmed by police in Newton.

Newton police said the officers were conducting surveillance on a nearby home as part of a murder investigation in Boston and believed Duncan matched the description of the suspect they were looking for. The officers apologized.

Duncan said he has since spoken with both Fuller and MacDonald and had positive conversations with no plans to file a complaint.

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