Fitchburg State University has appointed Karen J. Leary as new chief of police to take over for the late Michael Marcil, 52, who passed away suddenly in January after serving for 30 years at FSU.
Leary will be replacing Lt. Benjamin McDonald who has been serving as chief temporarily since Marcil’s passing.
Leary will not only be the newest member of the Fitchburg State Campus Police Department, she will also be the first female chief at the university. The campus officers of Fitchburg State University are fully trained, licensed officers, who possess full police authority and whose duties include the prevention of crime, the detection and apprehension of offenders, the preservation of public peace, the enforcement of all criminal laws and state statutes as well as compliance with the policies and regulations of the university. The campus police department also employs a large number of students as Student Security officers.
Leary worked nine years at Massachusetts General Hospital and two years with the state Attorney General’s office. From there she served as the deputy chief of police and deputy director of public safety as Simmons College starting in 2011 before coming to FSU.
Leary has a master’s degree in forensic science from the University of New Haven, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Westfield State University and an associate’s degree in business administration from Holyoke Community College. During her career Leary has been commended over numerous occasions and won several awards.
As a law enforcement officer, she has received the prestigious George L. Hanna Award for Bravery from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, among other laurels.
In a statement, President Antonucci said Leary brings “rich and varied experience” to the job. “She understands the evolving role of campus police in the university life and is ideally suited to bring our department to the next level.”
Leary commented, “I am looking forward to bringing my public safety philosophy to Fitchburg State University. I welcome this opportunity to work with a talented professional police organization and an administration that believes in collaboration and community engagement.”
“I’m looking forward to having someone with a background like Leary’s to take over as the chief of police,” said Fitchburg State student Summer Sheehan. “It is very important to me that I know I will be well protected if need be since I am living in off campus student housing in a city with a crime rate like Fitchburg’s.”
She then mentioned the recent break-ins that have happened on the neighborhood she lives in.
Leary was among more than 50 other applicants for the job of chief of police at the University. This number was reduced to two finalists, including Leary. President Robert V. Antonucci made the final decision for the replacement of the chief of police in which Leary had the pleasure of accepting the position. The Fitchburg State University Police Department is comprised of a chief, two lieutenants, one sergeant, 13 police officers, three full-time dispatchers and one reserve officer.
Leary will begin her term as chief on April 14.