WOONSOCKET – Detective Capt. Edward J. Lee Jr. of the Woonsocket Police Department is one of four finalists for the police chief’s job in the nearby Worcester County, Mass., town of Millbury.
Officially, the identities of the finalists have not been made public yet, according to Millbury Town Manager Bob Spain. He said four finalists were chosen by the Board of Selectmen recently and that their names will be disclosed for the first time on Dec. 13, the same night they will be interviewed in public. The panel will then announce their selection on Dec. 18.
More than 30 candidates applied for the job.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Lee reluctantly acknowledged he is in contention for the position, but he declined further comment, citing the still-confidential nature of the process.
A 25-year veteran of the WPD, Lee is the agency’s second-in-command and may be best known for cracking the case of serial killer Jeffrey Mailhot. Mailhot is serving 70 years in prison following his 2004 arrest on charges of strangling to death and dismembering three women who had been reported missing by their families during the previous two years. Lee later co-authored a book on the investigation.
This is Lee’s third try for a police chief’s job in Massachusetts since last December. He previously applied in the Bay State communities of Wilbraham and Maynard. He was a finalist in at least one of those earlier efforts as well.
Just before extending the career feelers, Lee had graduated from the FBI National Academy’s course in advanced policing, which has been a stepping stone to a chief’s job for a number of other WPD alumni in the past.
Millbury’s Board of Selectmen hired the private firm Public Safety Consultants to run the search for the police department’s next leader, according to Spain.
The town manager said officials are seeking a permanent replacement for longtime Millbury Police Chief Richard Handfield, who left the department after 20 years in July 2011. Provisional Chief Mark Moore is currently in charge of the department, the latest in a series of temporary leaders.
Though all of the candidates’ identities will be made public in one feel swoop on Dec. 13, Spain said the finalists were chosen in executive session by the Board of Selectmen several days ago and officials did not make any provision for releasing their identities before then.
“Everything will become public after that point,” said Spain.
Millbury, which is about halfway between Woonsocket and Worcester, Mass., is part of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and has a population of about 13,200 people spread across 15 square miles. The police department has 18 full-time officers and about half as many part-timers, not including dispatchers, according to the department’s web site.