SHIRLEY -- After Police Chief J. Gregory Massak announced he would retire June 30, a Police Chief Search Committee was formed to find his replacement.

The advisory group includes active and retired police chiefs from the area and Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, representing the selectmen.

Monday night, Garvin told the selectmen she had sought out a temporary or "interim" chief to take over when Massak leaves next month, as the board directed her to do.

She proposed hiring former Fitchburg Police Chief Robert A. DeMoura, of Chelmsford. Selectmen agreed unanimously to appoint him.

Why an interim police chief?

As Garvin explained, the stopgap measure is necessary because an ad to fill the full-time position was pulled and reposted to refine the job description, a move recommended by the search committee to widen the candidate pool.

But the posting do-over narrowed the hiring window as the June deadline draws near. Thus the need for an interim police chief as the search for a permanent, full-time police chief continues.

The committee also recommended focusing the search outside the department rather than within, Garvin has said.

As interim police chief, DeMoura can serve up to two months and will perform only administrative duties.

Tasked with preparing the department for the new police chief, as well as fulfilling his daily role as interim chief, DeMoura's resume shows he's well qualified for the job.


As chief of police in the city of Fitchburg from 2008 until earlier this year, for example, DeMoura noted under "selected accomplishments" that he improved the agency's "organizational culture" via targeted changes in its customs and internal structure and by opening up communications between officers and the community, among other changes.

Previously, DeMoura was deputy superintendent of the Lowell Police Department, a position he held for a year before taking on the top job in Fitchburg.

DeMoura had worked for the Lowell PD since 1985, starting as a patrol officer, working his way up through several job titles and achieving the rank of Captain in the Criminal Investigation Section in 2003.

From 1979 to 2004, DeMoura's law enforcement career path climbed steadily, leading from area supervisor for a private security firm in Massachusetts to working as a patrol officer for the Hudson, New Hampshire Police Dept., where he was also a youth officer. Over that 15-year period, he also worked as a correction officer for the N.H. Department of Corrections and as a police officer in Hampton, N.H.

DeMoura holds bachelor of science and masters of arts degrees in criminal justice, according to his resume, which also lists community involvement and several executive training and other certifications in a variety of law enforcement disciplines.

One sideline spotlighted on his resume was his eight years as a TV personality.

While working for the Lowell PD, from 2000 to 2008, DeMoura co-hosted a city-wide cable TV show focused on community issues.

Two hats or one?

To ensure adequate staffing levels during his tenure as Shirley police chief, Massak also worked a day-shift rotation as a full-time patrol officer, an arrangement selectmen were never happy with. But due to budget constraints, they could not correct it by hiring an additional officer.

Garvin stressed that the interim chief will perform only administrative functions..

It was not stated, however, whether the new police chief hired after DeMoura's 60-day stint is up would be expected to wear one or two hats, going forward.