Redding Police Capt. Mark O’Donnell will become interim Redding Police Chief, effective immediately.
After an executive session Thursday afternoon at Town Hall, Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton made a motion for the Board of Selectmen to appoint Mark O’Donnell to interim chief.
Contract terms will be negotiated.
The vote was unanimous; both Selectman Michael Thompson and Selectman Peg O’Donnell — who is not related to Mark O’Donnell — voted in favor of the motion.
As soon as the motion was announced, a long round of applause broke out from the dozen people who were in attendance.
Mark O’Donnell, who joined Redding’s police department in 1985, had submitted his notice of retirement, and would have been leaving his position Aug. 17, to work as a security officer at Masuk High School in Monroe, beginning Aug. 27.
For the past eight months, Mark O’Donnell has been running the department, serving as acting chief in the absence of chief Doug Fuchs. Fuchs was placed on administrative leave due to the investigation of his actions in regard to Peter Valenti, who was found hanging by a noose in a shed outside his Blueberry Hill Road home in Redding.
Thompson, speaking on the phone, thanked Chief O’Donnell for his tremendous service to the town. “Having him in place over these past eight months has been invaluable,” Thompson said.
Peg O’Donnell said Mark O’Donnell “has been a stabilizing force in our town for a long time, but now we are recognizing that formally.”
“I feel very comfortable having him in charge of our police department and so thrilled that we were able to convince him to stay,” she said.
Pemberton said, “Morale has never been higher over the past eight months.”
Chief O’Donnell, with a large smile on his face, said he’s “thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the department, and it wouldn’t have happened without the blessing of my wife and the Board of Selectmen.”
After the meeting, Chief O’Donnell said upon announcing his retirement, he received many emails from the community, “and I’m very touched by the comments.”
Capt. Sean Morris of the Georgetown Fire Department, said, “Mark is a fantastic police officer and supervisor. He’s very fair and honest. You know what you get with Mark. There’s no secrets, no hiding things. The town needs some level-headedness right now and some stability. Mark is the right person.”
Redding Fire Marshal Joe Paola said Mark O’Donnell has “honesty,” “integrity,” and “common sense as a cop.”
“I think he brings a lot of stability to the police department, and he’s well respected by the townspeople,” Paola added.
There will be a swearing in ceremony for Chief O’Donnell, at a date and time as yet unannounced.