New Abington Police Chief David Del Papa has been on the job for just a few days but says he already knows a few things: that Abington supports its police department, that the department’s officers are among the finest he’s served with or led, and there are great things ahead for the department.
Del Papa was sworn in Wednesday night in front of a room filled with family, friends, colleagues, and other public safety officials.
“I am honored and privileged to lead this department and I will not let you down,” he said.
Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz, state Sen. John Keenan, state Rep. Alyson Sullivan, and Braintree Mayor Charles Kokoros were among those in attendance.
Del Papa previously served as a lieutenant in the Braintree Police Department, where he first hired as an officer in 1996. He oversaw the department’s accreditation effort, and served as the commanding officer for the motorcycle unit, patrol supervisor, and co-commander of the detective division. Del Papa, who is an Abington resident, also holds a law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 2017.
Abington Town Manager Scott Lambiase said Del Papa’s swearing “marks a new day” for the Abington Police Department.
“I am confident he will be able to build a department that will be the benchmark for the region as well as the state,” he said.
Del Papa takes over a department that has been hindered for more than a decade by conflicts between rank and file officers and department leadership, and complaints over pay. As a result, the department has seen abnormally high turnover. One study found that the department lost 55 police officers between 2003 and 2018. Another eight officers have left the department since August 2020.
A town-commissioned study last year identified more than 50 ways department operations could be improved. The majority of those recommendations have been on hold while the search for a new chief took place. The police union’s last contract raised base pay to the regional average. The union is now asking for additional contract sweeteners other departments enjoy, such as education and shift bonuses.
Selectmen Chairman Kevin DiMarzio said problems within the police department were a major reason he ran for office, and he feels Del Papa has the “knowledge and experience” to address the issues.
“To say this is a tall task is an understatement but I believe David is up to that task,” DiMarzio said.
Del Papa signed a 3-year contract with the town that will pay him $165,000 this year, $169,125 annually starting July 1, 2022, and $173,353 annually starting July 1, 2023.
The town charter says the police chief’s term is supposed to be for an indefinite period of time. Both Del Papa and Lambiase agreed to waive that provision and ink a 3-year contract while the ongoing charter review process takes place.