Jul. 22—HAVERHILL — Known for building bridges and a commitment to community policing, one of Police Chief Robert Pistone's first actions in his new job was a meet-and-mingle event with members of the city's Latino community.
Pistone, a Haverhill native and 22-year veteran of the Haverhill Police Department, took the oath of office last Friday during a swearing-in ceremony in the Nicholas J. Ross Auditorium in City Hall that was attended by more than 150 people plus more than half of the city's 110-member police force.
"I am actually thankful and even invigorated to be assuming the responsibility right after the inception of a new era of policing," Pistone said. "Police have never been under more scrutiny, nor had their legitimacy and fairness questioned as much as they are now."
He noted his department is about to be one of only three police departments in the state to be nationally accredited.
"Never before have our community policing relationships been stronger or more prolific," he said.
Under his leadership, Pistone said his department will continue to dedicate itself to opening lines of communication with groups such as the VIP Club at Haverhill High School, POSE, UTEC, the city's Shannon Grant partners, Leaving the Streets ministry, the Latino Coalition, church leaders, businesses, and others.
"We have never seen such an abundant and dedicated commitment from our community partners to working cooperatively with us to solve problems and make this city a place where all who live here, conduct business here and visit us here feel welcome and safe," he said.
The ceremony included a procession led by members of Clan MacPherson bagpipes, which included Haverhill Police Detective William O'Connell. Vocalist Leslie Ellard sang the national anthem.
Pistone, 51, was named chief after an interview process that also included final candidates Haverhill Deputy Chief Stephen Doherty and Lawrence Capt. Maurice Aguiler.
According to Mayor James Fiorentini, the interview panel was especially impressed with Pistone's commitment to working with the city's Latino and other minority communities.
Pistone succeeds retired Chief Alan DeNaro, who marked the end of a 44-year law enforcement career on June 30. He served as Haverhill's chief since 2002.
During his speech, Fiorentini thanked DeNaro for his nearly 18 years of service to the city and also thanked recently retired Deputy Chief Anthony Haugh for stepping up to lead the department for the past seven weeks, following DeNaro's early departure for medical reasons.
"Today marks the finish of an entirely new public safety leadership team," Fiorentini said, noting Haugh's retirement in December was followed by Fire Chief William Laliberty's retirement in February then DeNaro's retirement. "We were able to find three great replacements for a great public safety leadership team."
The mayor appointed Deputy Fire Chief Robert O'Brian fire chief in February; he appointed Police Capt. Stephen Doherty deputy police chief in May, and now Pistone has been sworn in as police chief.
Throughout his career at the Haverhill Police Department, Pistone has served in roles including patrol commander, detective commander and administrative commander. Since 2015, Pistone has served as a captain, where he oversaw several units and 64 patrolmen.
"We already have a good police department and I look forward to working with Chief Bob Pistone to making it even better," the mayor said.
Pistone said that going forward, his department will be hosting monthly panel discussion with members of the community to address such issues as recruiting and hiring practices, crime statistics, use of force statistics, and customer service satisfaction survey results.
"It would be my privilege to be able to give back to my city by ensuring the Haverhill Police Department does its part to guarantee that the people of Haverhill live in a safe community and in a climate of respect in which the dignity and rights of all citizens are prioritized," he said.