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New Devens police ‘chief’ says, ‘We’re everything here’

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DEVENS — State police Lt. Charles McPhail will be the first to tell you he’s led a professionally charmed life.

He took the state police exam as a criminal justice student at Westfield State College and became a trooper immediately after graduating from there and the State Police Academy in 1981.

“It fell into the plan and went well,” he said.

Twenty-six years later he’s commanding the Devens detachment of Troop C and is relishing the uniqueness of the job. He arrived in late May.

“I love it here and enjoy dealing directly with schools, businesses and the community,” he said. “We’re everything here.”

“Everything” involves responding to all 911 calls, building alarms and “anything in between” with the nine troopers, one sergeant and mechanically sound vehicles under his command on a 24/7 basis.

“We help Ayer, Shirley and Harvard on backup,” he said. “Meanwhile, I have access to all the resources of the state police. I have great relationships with the chiefs.”

Today’s state police resources are considerable, he said, and troopers are no longer just on the highways. There’s an air wing, the academy, ballistics division, detectives, under-cover operatives, K-9 teams, and the new Commonwealth Fusion Center, which provides information sharing among local, state and federal public-safety agencies and the private sector in coordinating intelligence against terrorism, for example.

“We even have a mountain-bike patrol,” he said. “I have a really good relationship with Department of Defense police, and we help with training and other assistance. We’re a great asset for MassDevelopment.”

McPhail reports to Troop C commander Maj. John B. Dunn. The Devens detachment is one of nine substations of Troop C.

McPhail graduated from Tewksbury High School and remains a resident of the town. He and his wife, Deborah, have two daughters: Kristen, 21, and Shauna, 18.

His first assignment was to the post barracks in Athol, followed by two years assigned to Leominster, Andover for 12 years, the motorcycle unit in Boston, then as a sergeant in charge of State House security. He came to Devens from Boston.

“I definitely recommend the career to both males and females,” he said. “It offers so much in training and in job (titles). All troopers start in uniform, assigned to barracks, then down the road go down different avenues.

“The job has changed to the use of experts (in specific fields),” he said. “I’ll be talking with (Safety Officer and fire Chief Thomas) Garrity and MassDevelopment about eventually bringing a commercial vehicle unit here because of the truck traffic.

“It’s a unique situation here, and I enjoy the work day,” he continued. “I enjoy dealing with people.

“The state police are here to serve the residents of Devens and to provide any service they request,” he said. “We are your local police force and are happy to do the job. We bring an amazing capability.”