New interim Chief of Police Kenneth Walsh to take over for Chief Gerard Coletta


Caroline Enos / News Editor

New interim Chief of Police Kenneth Walsh poses with the Suffolk University Police and Suffolk University Security seal

When Captain Kenneth Walsh steps into the role of interim chief of security and police for the Suffolk University Police Department (SUPD) on Nov. 1, the new chief said he will serve with a sense of community.

“No matter where this goes, as the interim police chief, I can promise you this: you’re going to see me engage in the community a lot,” Walsh said in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

The university notified faculty last week that Walsh will replace Chief Gerard Coletta, who is stepping down from the position at the end of the month to head the police department at Tufts University.

Walsh, who will continue in his current role as the university’s emergency manager along with his new title, has more than 30 years of police experience. He has been with SUPD since 2013, and was chief of police at Endicott College and in the town of Wenham, Mass.

“My first mentor was [former Wenham Police] Chief Peter Carnes. He taught me to treat people the way you’d want your own family to be treated, and I never forgot that,” said Walsh.

Walsh attributed his former mentor to providing him with the skills that have benefited him throughout his life.

“That’s what he instilled in me. That’s what I brought to Endicott, and that’s what I have brought to Suffolk,” said Walsh. “As interim chief, I think I can enhance that even more and really go above and beyond for the community, and really engage with them.”

Walsh began his career in policing at age 19, when he was a dispatcher for his hometown’s department in Danvers, Mass. He joined the Wenham force in 1986, and became the town’s first deputy chief in 2004.

A year later, Walsh was officially made Wenham’s police chief; a position he held until he went to Endicott for a year to serve as chief there. He left when he was hired as a lieutenant at Suffolk.

“Most people do urban policing when they first start out and then they go to a small town. I’m the opposite,” said Walsh. “I always wanted to experience urban policing, so I had an opportunity at Suffolk where you were in an urban setting, but I also had the campus environment, which I love.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in human services from Springfield College, and earned his masters in criminal justice administration at Western New England University. Walsh also taught at Endicott for three years.

Walsh has sat on the boards of the Greater Boston Police Council and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. He was the president of the Essex County Chiefs of Police Association, and worked briefly as a narcotics detective for the Cape Ann Drug Strike Force after he graduated from the police academy in 1989.

His time is not only devoted to police work, however.

“I’m a family man. I’m the father of three girls. I have two grandchildren and I have a golden retriever named Ginger, who’s awesome,” said Walsh. “I’m a huge Boston Celtics fan, huge Patriots fan. Those are my teams.”

The chief plays guitar in several bands, including a group of retired police chiefs on the North Shore called Uncharted Watahs.

He can also be seen on guitar and occasionally vocals for The Suffolk Shufflers, a group of Suffolk faculty and staff that most recently rocked out at an event during Family Weekend.

“What a better way to bring the community together than with bringing together different department heads to form a band [The Shufflers], and have fun in something that students can relate to,” said Walsh.

For Walsh, bringing the community together through music is nothing new. As Wenham police chief, Walsh organized “Hometown Idol,” a community singing show featuring Wenham residents of all walks of life that he said was extremely successful.

While he said he likely won’t make many changes as interim chief, Walsh hopes to foster community at Suffolk by bringing students and SUPD officers together.

Some SUPD officers have become liaisons to student organizations, and Walsh looks to help the department have more friendly relationships with these groups.

He is also starting up a new show that will help students know how to utilize SUPD’s services– such as how the department can help students file restraining orders or walk them home at night– and know how to stay safe on and off campus.

“Even though you’re in an urban setting, we want you to feel like [SUPD] is your small town police department and make sure you know we’re going to go the extra mile to assist you,” said Walsh.