‘Quiet professional’ Chief Reynolds retiring

‘Quiet professional’ Chief Reynolds retiring

NORTH SMITHFIELD – After 24 years of running the North Smithfield Police Department, Chief Steven Reynolds is trading in his badge for a baseball glove.

The long-serving police chief announced his plans last week to retire next February. The announcement drew outpourings of well-wishes from other officers around the state who described Reynolds as a “quiet professional” and a leader in the law enforcement community.

“He is truly an old-school state police detective,” said Burrillville Police Chief Stephen Lynch, who served under Reynolds in the state police. “And what I mean by that is you really don’t go home until you get an answer in the case. He was all about digging and digging and making sure victims got answers to their case.”

Reynolds, a Pawtucket native, started his career with the Rhode Island State Police in 1974 at the age of 20. Over a 22-year career, he rose to the rank of captain and served as commander of the state’s detective division. Among those starting out when Reynolds was detective commander was Col. James Manni, current superintendent of the state police.

“He definitely was a tremendous mentor to the junior troopers. He was a class act,” Manni told The Breeze this week. “He had a wealth of knowledge as an investigator, and the term I use a lot is there are leaders that command respect and leaders that demand respect. And he commanded the respect of every trooper on the job.”

Reynolds was involved with several high-profile investigations during his time with the state, including the 1991 Brendel murders and the 1979 kidnapping of Frank and Tammy Galleshaw, but he doesn’t like to talk about those. Instead, the chief, who describes himself as “low-key,” prefers to talk about his officers and the improvements he made to the department after his arrival as chief. In 1996, approaching a mandatory 25-year retirement from the state police, he began looking for a position with a local department. By his own account, he had his pick of several jobs in the field, but chose North Smithfield, a department that was then rife with allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

“I didn’t want something that was smooth-running. I wanted the challenge of fixing something,” he recalled. “And we did.”

Over the next several years, he implemented new rules and policies and started a hiring process. His first three hires, he said, were “home runs.” Two of those, Capt. Tim Lafferty and Capt. Stephen Riccitelli, still serve under him as the department’s seconds-in-command.

In rebuilding the department, he said, he focused on quality and didn’t allow politics to get in the way. He credited the town administrators he served under with allowing him to run the department without interference and his officers for their enthusiasm and professionalism.

“It all starts with personnel, and I think the individuals that are police officers here, they’re high character, intelligent, well-educated individuals,” he said.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski also noted the chief’s professionalism, pointing out his appreciation for his officers and their obligation to the town.

“(He) has been a great example of how you manage an organization and should certainly leave very proud of what he’s accomplished in his years here in the town,” he said.

Though he’ll be retired from police work as of February, Reynolds plans to keep an active schedule in the community. A longtime resident of Lincoln, he serves on the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Commission and the Rhode Island State Police Museum Committee. He’s also a fixture around the local youth baseball scene, coaching for Cumberland’s Upper Deck Baseball Academy, and was recently appointed head baseball coach at Lincoln High School. He lives with his wife, Angela, and has three children and three grandchildren.

Reynolds said he’s confident he’s leaving the department in good hands. His one disappointment, he said, was not seeing the department move to a new police station from its current location at the former Bushee School. He expects the project will become a task for his successor, who has not yet been named. Reynolds added he hopes the town considers hiring from within the department and can think of at least two individuals he’d recommend for the job.

“I’m hoping to be able to come back here in a few years for the opening of a police station,” he said.