In a small town like Medway, with just under 14,000 residents, we benefit from embracing the small and truly getting to know each other. Building trusting relationships is often a key component to the success of any town’s Police Department. Officer visibility can be the key to deterring a criminal act. The more visible police department members are, the less likely criminal acts will happen in a target area.
Bridging the divide between law enforcement and the public, especially with children and the elderly, is our Chief’s top goal. Meet Allen Tingley, Chief of the Medway Police Department, a life-long resident of Medway and an active member of the community. His high level of community outreach and involvement ensures his department maintains its goal of being seen not only in times of crisis, but also in times of good.
1. What led you to become the Chief of the Medway Police Department?
As a young boy I was always intrigued with public safety and especially the idea of a career centered on helping people. After graduation from Medway High School, these interests led me to my first part-time job with the Town of Medway. I took my first job with the Town of Medway as a part-time police and fire communications dispatcher. Working one midnight-to-eight-shift a week, I quickly realized that my love for helping people and the public safety profession as a whole was where I wanted to build my career. I started taking on additional dispatch shifts and was eventually promoted to a full-time police and fire communications dispatcher. After a few more years, I was promoted to a full-time police officer where I remained for eleven years. I worked my way up the ranks; Investigator, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant and then Chief in 2007.
I have always had a love for working in public safety and having the ability to assist people when needed under stressful and non-stressful situations. My goal is and always has been to make the Town's residents and the community a safer place to live and visit. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to work within this great community that I was born and raised in for the past forty-two years.
2. How has Law enforcement changed over the years?
Law enforcement has changed quite a bit since I joined the force in 1977. The first example that comes to mind is the lack of technology that existed back in the 70's. All of our records, master cards, daily logs, arrest reports, court records, memos, directives, and traffic citations all had to be handwritten or typed.
The 2nd example of change is radio technology. When I first started with the force, two-way radios were non-existent. Medway Police shared a radio channel with Millis, Medfield, Sherborn, Franklin, Bellingham, Holliston, Norfolk, Milford and Wrentham Police Departments, as well as their fire departments. In order to dispatch a call from an outside fire alarm street box, it was required to count holes in a punch tape to see what the outside fire alarm box number was, and then look up the outside box number to see where the outside box was located. After all of that was completed, we were then able to dispatch the fire department to the proper location.
Today, technology has grown leaps and bounds! We now have a digitized fire alarm system along with radio control boxes that automatically provides dispatch with the outside fire alarm box number. So much easier!
Another example I can share about how law enforcement has changed over the years are the cruisers we use. When I first started on the force, all we carried in our cruisers was a basic first aid kit, oxygen, car lock out equipment and some forcible entry tools. All communications were shared over a single frequency radio channel with 10 other departments.
Today, cruisers are equipped with radios that operate on individual frequencies, have multiple radio channels allowing communications with surrounding police and fire departments, as well as our own police dispatch center. The front seat of each cruiser holds a lap top computer equipped with Internet access. This access gives officers multiple abilities including: running license plates through the Registry of Motor Vehicles computer system, immediate access to the department's records management system (PAMET), and the ability to communicate from cruiser to cruiser. All cruisers are also equipped with the needed equipment to issue motor vehicle citations. The inside of the cruisers has also been updated with state-of-the-art improvements including cages (separating the back seat from the front seat - significantly decreasing injuries) and trunk vaults. The addition of trunk vaults allows officers to carry various specialized weapons and ammo along with high impact ballistic vests. Cruisers have essentially become "moving offices". In addition to weapons and vests, all vehicles carry defibrillators, first aid kits inclusive of Narcan, masks and respirators.
3. Does social media help or hinder law enforcement?
Social media has definitely had some positive effects on the way we do our job. It allows the Police Department to send and receive important emergency and non- emergency messages out to the town's residents in a timely fashion. In addition to various social media platforms we also utilitze Blackboard Connect Emergency Notification System. This system is not only used to advise residents of various emergency situations, but to keep residents updated on other matters of importance in the town.
An example of social media and the BlackBoard Connect System at play was when the Department used the system to put out messages concerning an individual that had committed several house breaks within town. The Police Department was actively looking to apprehend this individual and used social media for help! Multiple messages using the BlackBoard Connect System were sent asking residents to turn on their outside lights and look out their windows for the suspect's. These messages along with strong detective work, led to the suspects apprehension. This example was probably one of the first times we had used a social media type platform to assist in apprehending a criminal suspect. It worked well.
4. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Charlene, and my two daughters, Susan and Rebecca, as well as my four grandchildren, Ava, Michael, Owen and Olivia. We enjoy camping in various locations throughout New England. I also feel lucky to be able to spend valuable time with my grand-daughter and her Medway Youth Softball team as an assistant coach. Lastly, I relish any time that I can find to work in my yard.
5. Where is your favorite place to travel?
The White Mountains in New Hampshire is the place that Charlene and I enjoy the most! We love all that nature has to offer; hiking, biking, and swimming. Outside of New England, we also like to spend time in the Ocean City, Maryland area. One of our favorite events is the Annual Sun Festival.
More about Chief Tingley
Chief Tingley's community involvement includes active participation as a committee member for numerous events in town which include: Medway Pride Day, Celebrate Medway Day, the Memorial Day Parade, the annual Christmas Parade and the Senior Citizens Police Academy. Chief Tingley also serves as the Town's Emergency Management Director and a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Lastly, the Chief is an active member of the Norfolk County Chiefs of Police Association and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, as well as a member of the Medway Fire Department, serving as the Department's Deputy Fire Chief.