DRACUT — Twenty-five years after he first donned a Dracut Police Department uniform, the moment Kevin Richardson had waited for since he was a little boy came to fruition.

On Jan. 21, he was officially sworn in as the chief of police, the 15th man to hold the position in the town’s 305-year history.

The ceremony and ensuing dinner reception, sponsored by Richardson’s father Ray Richardson, a 40-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department, was held at Lenzi’s Catering on Merrimack Avenue.

“It occurred to me on the way here that if Kevin had somehow been appointed town manager, you’d all be at the Stonehenge Inn tonight,” joked Town Manager Dennis Piendak.

Richardson, who served first as interim deputy chief and then acting chief for more than a year after the retirement of Chief Louis Panas, was appointed to the permanent position on Dec. 13.

Board of Selectmen Chairman James O’Loughlin assured Richardson that although the process for selecting a chief was contentious at times, the board’s unanimous vote to appoint him holds with it their full support.

“What he’s (Richardson) beginning here is the most important job in the town of Dracut, or any town for that matter,” O’Loughlin said. “The good, the bad and the ugly will all go through his office.”

“Everyone will be looking to him for leadership and I have absolutely no doubt that he will rise to meet the challenge,” he added. “We know what you’ve done in the past and look forward to great things in the future.”

Dracut’s Statehouse delegation, State Sen. Sue Tucker and State Rep. Colleen Garry, were on hand to congratulate Richardson.

“If you need to you can always give me a blue light, I’m good at drunk- driving arrests,” quipped Garry, a Dracut Democrat, who helped Londonderry, N.H. police apprehend a suspected drunken driver in November.

“I am also ready for the new seat-belt patrols,” she added.

Town Clerk Kathleen Graham administered the oath of office, as Richardson stood at attention in his dress blues at the podium, accompanied by his wife, Brenda, and his father, plus a long line of Dracut police officers standing in the background.

With the formalities taken care of, the crowd of more than 150 jumped to their feet and gave Richardson a rousing round of applause.

“Not only am I humbled by the overwhelming crowd here tonight, but am honored and privileged to serve as the chief of police of Dracut,” Richardson said. “I believe the Dracut Police Department has a bright future and am sure we will accomplish great things.”

As part of his big night, Richardson took the time to acknowledge his predecessor, Panas, who served as chief of police for 19 years, referring to him as the man who “mentored me, supported me and encouraged me.”

Richardson never gave a thought to a career outside of law enforcement, the Richardson family business. In addition to his father’s lengthy service on the Lowell police force, his brother Kelly is a Lowell police lieutenant, his brother Gary served on the Lowell force, and his brother Sean is a corrections officer.

“It was always this. I never thought of doing anything else since I was a little boy,” Richardson said. “It is all because of my father.”

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