AMESBURY — A succession plan more than three years in the making came to fruition yesterday when Amesbury police Chief Mark Gagnon announced his retirement and his second-in-command, Lt. Kevin Ouellet, was named the department’s new chief effective July 1.
While city and police officials announced last November they were planning for Gagnon’s imminent retirement, planning had begun the moment Gagnon was tapped to replace the retiring Michael Cronin in 2010. Upon his hiring, Gagnon signed a five-year contract and this fiscal year will earn $160,631. Ouellet’s salary and contract have not been finalized.
Yesterday, the 56-year-old Gagnon said when he accepted the top job, it was with the mindset that he’d be in command for up to five years. With that in mind, the decision was made right away to groom Ouellet to someday succeed him should he want the job. To that end, Gagnon said he made sure Ouellet attended Amesbury department head meetings and accompanied him to chief-related events across the region.
“That’s been a fantastic experience because we’ve shared the load, worked as a team,” Gagnon said.
During those years, Gagnon, known throughout the city for his community outreach initiatives and his accessibility to the public, ensured Ouellet followed the same pattern.
Gagnon’s outstanding attention to community involvement was mentioned several times yesterday during a brief press conference inside the police department’s roll call room. Also in attendance was Lt. Jeffrey Worthen, who was named second-in-command by Ouellet.
Worthen, 50, was promoted to lieutenant in 2010 at the same time Gagnon replaced Cronin and Ouellet assumed executive officer duties. Before that he served as a sergeant shift supervisor for 10 years. Back in the early 1980s, Worthen and Gagnon worked together at the Salisbury Police Department before Worthen joined Amesbury police in 1983.