Dennis Woodside Gets Nod For Permanent Chief’s Post
By: Alex Scofield
Dennis R. Woodside had given little thought to becoming a police officer when he graduated from Bourne High School in 1984. It was two years later, as a Cape Cod Community College student studying criminal justice, that he was placed in a job as a summer police officer in Falmouth. That changed everything for the man who this week was appointed to become Bourne’s chief of police.
“It was an eye-opener,” Mr. Woodside said about his job as summer police officer. “It was fun, I was young, and it was an exciting job …That really put it into high gear.”
Within a year, Sgt. Woodside had enrolled in the police academy in Barnstable, and was sworn in as a full-time officer with the Bourne Police Department. In 1993, Bourne police promoted him to the rank of sergeant. In that capacity, he served Bourne police for 17 years, until Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino appointed him as chief on Tuesday.
Barring a highly improbable veto by the board of selectmen in the upcoming two weeks, Sgt. Woodside’s promotion will become official on January 5.
“He has a very good record,” Mr. Guerino said about the 44-year-old sergeant. “He’s thorough, he’s fair, he’s a good administrator. …I’m hoping this is a long-term appointment.”
“He’s a police officer’s police officer; he really likes his job,” said John A. Ford Jr., chairman of Bourne’s selectmen, and himself a former chief of Bourne Police.
Sgt. Woodside was born in East Boston, and his family lived in West Roxbury briefly, but moved to Bourne when his father took a job on then-Otis Air Force Base. After completing his associate’s degree at Cape Cod Community College, Sgt. Woodside went on to get his bachelor’s degree in law enforcement at Western New England College, where he later earned his master’s degree in criminal justice administration. He now lives in Pocasset with his wife, Andrea M. (Shea) Woodside, and three boys.
“He’s detail-oriented, and he worked the busiest shifts,” said Mr. Ford who, as chief, supervised Sgt. Woodside for years.
“I was always interested in the bigger cases that we’ve worked on, [such as] making sure a bad car accident was investigated properly,” Sgt. Woodside said.
Sgt. Woodside was already serving as interim police chief, following the retirement of Chief Earl V. Baldwin on November 18. Since then, Chief Baldwin has been using accrued leave; he remains on the books as chief until his leave expires on January 4.
Sgt. Woodside expects the toughest part of the new position will be the adjustment it entails to desk work. Even while serving as both sergeant and interim chief during the past month, he still joined Bourne officers on the occasional “hot” assignment.
“I’m not really a desk person,” Sgt. Woodside said. However, he is motivated by tackling new assignments. “I’ve always had this knowledge quest anyway; I always want to know everything,” he said.
He already has some experience dealing with the department’s budget, and that will be a pressing issue when his tenure as chief begins. So will filling vacancies formed by his promotion and several expected retirements in the department.
“There’s going to be a lot of movement. We’re going to be a pretty young department,” he said.
“I want to bring everybody up. We have a lot of good men and women here,” Sgt. Woodside said. “I come from working the road to being a supervisor, and I think the [other officers] know that.”
Mr. Guerino notified Bourne selectmen of his appointment of Sgt. Woodside by a letter dated December 21.
“I am sure that the Board of Selectmen shares in my enthusiasm with this important Public Safety choice,” Mr. Guerino wrote, and he asked selectmen to waive the 15-day waiting period allotted to them, to grant a fast-track approval to Sgt. Woodside’s promotion.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’d waive the 15-day period,” Mr. Ford said. The selectmen’s next regular meeting is scheduled for January 4, which is within the right of refusal period. But Mr. Ford also expects Sgt. Woodside will sail through.
“He knows the town, he’s lived here [most of] his life, and he graduated from the Bourne school system,” Mr. Ford said. “It’s nice to see an officer come up through the system and get promoted to the top.”
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