By Max Bowenemail@example.com
Whether it was learning how to box or finding a place for recovering addicts to meet, North Attleborough Police Chief John Reilly always goes further.
It was a sentiment offered by recently retired Police Capt. Joe DiRenzo as he addressed the Town Council and a gathered assemblage of officers, friends, and the Reilly family. The chief is set to step down this month after more than three decades with the department.
“John would always want to learn more and try harder,” said Reilly at the council’s first in-person public meeting on Monday, June 7.
DiRenzo went through Reilly’s lengthy career, but one theme echoed throughout—the chief’s unending drive to do his best. He recalled Reilly’s early days with the department. Back then, it was commonplace for the older officers to teach the new ones to box as a means of building up confidence. If one had confidence in themselves, said DiRenzo, they were less likely to immediately go for their weapons. Reilly became so good that he joined the Mass State Police Boxing Team, but that was far from the end of his fitness pursuits. The chief was also skilled on the basketball court and competes in CrossFit competitions.
All this paid an unexpected dividend when a company called LoJack called. LoJack is a stolen vehicle recovery system that enables vehicles and equipment to be tracked and recovered by police. They were looking for an officer to be part of their ad campaign wanted Reilly for the job. In an old ad that the family kept, Reilly was photographed in uniform and wearing mirrored sunglasses. DiRenzo had been given copies of the ad and showed them to the audience.
“They wanted someone in top shape to pose for their ads,” he said.
DiRenzo also spoke of Reilly’s work with Brett Luongo. He had approached Reilly years back about starting a group for recovering addicts, and not only did Reilly help, but he found the group a new location when it became too big.
“He changed what recovery looks like in this town,” wrote Luongo in a text to DiRenzo, which was read during the meeting. “For this addict, John Reilly is not just the chief, he is not only just my friend, he is my family, he is my brother.”
Reilly’s daughter Allison said that looking back on her father’s career, the family has seen what hard work looks like. She said that her father has very high standards, and the department has a number of accomplishments as a result. She spoke of how John would regularly play golf with a local elderly man and always stopped at lemonade stands.
“My dad is not a good police officer, he’s an exceptional one and he’s the leader of exceptional police officers,” said Allison.
Many others took the opportunity to speak about the chief and his impact on the town. Councilor JoAnn Cathcart worked for the department for many years, and was considered “everybody’s mom” at the station.
“John, you’ve been an inspiration to all of us,” she said with emotion. “You’ll always be my chief.”
District Attorney Thomas Quinn’s career began around the same time as Reilly’s. During the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation, he was always impressed by the collaboration with the NAPD.
“People say they want to collaborate and it doesn’t happen,” said Quinn. “In North Attleborough it happened and it was for the good of the case. John’s retirement is a loss for the community.”
Councilor Michael Lennox commented on how Reilly is good at taking praise and directing it to the team. He recalled when he first met the chief as a newly-elected selectman, that Reilly answered all his questions about the department.
“You stood right with us as we faced some hard trials. It’s been a tremendous honor to serve with you,” said Lennox. “You made me a better public servant, too. It’s your time John, you earned this.”
As he has been cleaning out the office, Reilly has come across hundreds of Thank-You cards from over the years. During his remarks he turned to face the audience and thanked them for everything, adding that community is the key to everything.
“To the men and women of the department, I’m just so humbled,” said Reilly. “I really am.”