Story updated 9/30/16:
Mark Spain was sworn in as Watervliet police chief eight months after stepping in as acting chief.
Surrounded by his family, members of the police department, and city residents, 47-year-old Spain took the oath of office administered by Watervliet Mayor Mike Manning.
Chief Ronald Boisvert retired at a time when the department was mired in controversy following the arrests and convictions of several officers. Months earlier, one officer pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges and another was convicted of purchasing drugs while on the job.
A former chief was sentenced for stealing money from a funeral home in August.
Then-Chief Boisvert and Acting Chief Spain were tasked with bringing in new faces to the department and repairing its reputation.
With reforms now in place, Spain said he’s looking forward to leading the department.
“Everybody’s acknowledged the fact that we’ve made mistakes, we’ve never ran from them. And I think now we’re moving forward and I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do for the last eight months, but now…I get to do it in official capacity,” said Spain.
Spain said reaching out to the community has been central to his approach.
“We’ve had meetings where we’ve filled this room and we’ve had dialogue with people, which they’re not used to, but that change has been accepted and we think we’ll be able to move forward with that,” said Spain.
Last year, a community meet-and-greet was held for the new and veteran members of the department. Mayor Manning reflected on the event.
“If we bring in all these fresh faces, what we don’t want is the community to be not comfortable approaching them, sharing that information, and respecting them when they’re trying to enforce the law,” said Manning.
Before the appointment of Chief Spain, the mayor assembled a search team, and applicants came in from as far as New York City.
Spain, an 18-year veteran of the force, was picked from a field narrowed down to five candidates.
Manning said he was pleased to see so much interest in the department considering the negative headlines in the recent past.
“It was a viewed as a challenge from outside and it was viewed as a challenge from Chief Spain, and now he’s taking on the challenge,” said Manning.