A longtime member of the Burlington Police Department has moved onto a third career as an attorney.
Captain Gregory Skehan retired from the department last month after 25 years. Skehan began his career in law enforcement in 1997 as an officer and moved up to sergeant in 2003 where he served as first line operations supervisor on all three of the department’s patrol shifts. He became the Operations Lieutenant Command Officer accountable for leading, managing, directing, and supervising the entire midnight patrol shift in 2007 and continued to climb the ladder in the administration portion of the department. In 2011 he was promoted to Administrative Police Captain, the position from which he retired.
During his time with the department, Skehan said he was proud to be part of many initiatives involving mental health and substance abuse prevention and helping provide training to other officers to ensure the department had the appropriate response procedures to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes.
“A lot of departments talk about community policing but Burlington really is a community focused department,” he said. “Those programs help us partner with other entities like the Fire Department and other departments and members of the community to serve those with special needs. Different people have different needs – that’s why we work with the community to tailor our responses to the best of our abilities.”
Before moving onto administration, Skehan worked on patrol and has a couple of incidents that stick out to him as proud moments. He managed a large armed carjacking in 2005 that involved over 100 officers from area and state police that resulted in an arrest without anyone being injured. In 2007 he and K9 Officer Joe Papsedero received an accommodation for bravery for pulling a power company worker from a ditch after he was electrocuted despite dangers to themselves.
“I was really happy to have the opportunity to assist in that – ask any police officer and they will always remember the opportunities to save somebody,” he said. “It was nice that they gave it to us and I’m proud of that because that’s real police and public safety work.”
He was also part of what has been dubbed “Gunbrella” when a man was seen in the Burlington Mall with an umbrella that mimicked an assault rifle and resulted in a massive police response. Skehan managed that incident with the late Lt. Walter Bevis and Detective Al Gagne was able to quickly determine through obtained video there was no active threat to the community.
“I’m thankful to have the opportunity to manage big incidents,” he said, adding he was glad the situation was not what everyone feared it might be but also proud of how quickly the agencies responded.
When asked about his feelings on retiring from the Burlington Police Department, Skehan said he will miss working with his fellow officers but is confident he will maintain contact with friends he made during his long tenure.
“I’m going to miss working with the great men and women of the department,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing because I’ve made so many great friendships and some of them I know will last a lifetime. It’s been a great experience.”
Skehan, who is also an attorney who passed the Massachusetts bar on his first attempt, is now employed as an Association Attorney for Perez Gardini LLC in Waltham working on immigration matters. He said he is excited to be embarking on what he calls his third career after first starting out as an accountant before becoming a police officer.
“I feel blessed and fortunate to be having a third career,” he said. Accounting and then 25 years in law enforcement so it certainly was a full career and very rewarding and now I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be fully rolling with my third career as an attorney.”
He also attributes his success to his wife Sherry, who had to take on much of the responsibility of managing the house with their three children while he worked full time in the department and pursued his law degree.
“My wife had to do the lion share of the work at home,” he said. “I wouldn’t have made it through law school without her support.
During the July Select Board meeting, members of the board praised Skehan for his time with the department.
“He’s a great guy and it’s a tough loss when we lose a good one like that,” member Joe Morandi said. “Greg, great job with the department for the past 30 years and thank you.”
Finally, Burlington Police Chief Thomas Browne also shared his thoughts of Skehan’s career and work with the department with BNEWS.
“He was instrumental in obtaining hundreds of thousands in grant money over the years setting us on course to be a leader in Massachusetts law enforcement,” he said.