Suffolk named Gerard A. “Chip” Coletta the new permanent Chief of the University Police on Monday. Current Interim Chief of Police James Ferrier has agreed to stay on the job through to the end of March to help with the transition in the department.
Coletta, a Quincy native, is a retired major of the Massachusetts State Police Troop D in Southeastern Massachusetts who served with the state police for more than two decades. As a Major, Coletta commanded a staff of more than 250 people within six different police barracks.
He also served more recently for two-and-a-half years in the Stonehill College Police Department, first as an investigator and later as a detective lieutenant. Coletta said he enjoyed his time at Stonehill and learned a lot there in only a short time.
“Campus policing is very different from normal policing,” Coletta said, “It’s different because you do a lot of work with people who aren’t police, like administrators and students.”
Coletta also acknowledged that not all campus policing is the same. “Stonehill is an insulated community, but on the other hand Suffolk is an urban campus with no public space of its own,” Coletta said. “Jim Ferrier has been very helpful with the transition. He has 37 years of experience in urban campus police.”
Greg Gatlin, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, said that Coletta has a “strong understanding of good campus policing and strong skills in building relations with students, faculty, and administration.”
Coletta is excited to join the police department at Suffolk, but also realizes the challenges he will face. “Everyone I’ve talked to says Suffolk is a great community,” Coletta said, “But there are some issues the department is facing. We are shorthanded and looking to hire new personnel.”
Coletta is focusing on “professionalizing the department and making strong relationships with administration, staff, and students, and the Boston Police Department, State Police, and community groups.”
He also had the chance to meet President McCarthy. “Jim Ferrier described McCarthy to me as forward-thinking and transparent, and that’s what the police department wants to be too,” said Coletta.
Gatlin believes that Coletta’s ability to strengthen relationships is what made him the best fit for Suffolk. “Students and administrators [at Stonehill] really appreciated his relationship building,” Gatlin said.
Coletta was nominated for a “Touch of Kindness” award for a case he worked on at Stonehill. The case involved investigating claims that a former student from the school was threatening a current student. “We took certain steps to address the issue and it turned out to be a solid investigation,” Coletta said of the joint effort by Stonehill Police, State Police, and the FBI. In the end, the suspect was charged and the case was closed, yet Stonehill felt Coletta went above and beyond by successfully placing a restraining order on the perpetrator.
“The bottom line is we’re all working to the same goal of keeping students safe,” Coletta said.