State Police head Marian J. McGovern to retire

Marian McGovern was the first woman to command the Massachusetts State Police.
Donald Rockhead for The Boston Globe/file
Marian McGovern was the first woman to command the Massachusetts State Police.

After three decades of service with the Massachusetts State ­Police, Superintendent Marian J. McGovern plans to retire in July, officials said.

“It has been an honor to have spent more than 30 years working for the greatest law enforce­ment agency in the world,” McGovern said in a statement ­issued Friday night. “I appreciate the opportunity Governor ­Patrick gave me and the trust he had in me and my ability to lead the Massachusetts State ­Police forward.”

McGovern, a Worcester ­native, was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as State Police superintendent — the first woman to achieve that rank with the Massachusetts State Police — on Dec. 10, 2009, Terrel ­Harris, communications director for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, said in an e-mail Friday night. She assumed the position shortly afterward.


The 58-year-old McGovern’s last day is expected to be July 13. A replacement has not been named. Officials said in the ­Public Safety and Security statement that the selection process will take place over the next several weeks.

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“This is a huge loss,” Patrick said in the statement. “As the first woman to command the State ­Police, she made history. The quality and professionalism of her command has made us all proud.”

McGovern, who did not give a reason for her retirement, was unavailable for comment Friday night.

Thomas Foley, a former State Police commander, said leading the force is an exhausting task, so most people serve two to three years in the position.

“It’s 24/7, so anybody that goes into that job and puts their heart and soul in it, you know the clock’s ticking,” he said in a phone interview Friday night.


“She worked very hard over her career, and she has a career she’s going to be proud of,” ­Foley said of McGovern.

Leaders across the city praised the superintendent’s dedication to the State Police and to the Commonwealth.

“Colonel McGovern served the Commonwealth with integrity during her time as superintendent,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said Friday night.

“She embodied the spirit of service and dedication to duty for which Massachusetts State Police are known. It was a pleasure to work with her, and we wish the very best for her in the future.”

Lieutenant Governor ­Timothy P. Murray echoed that sentiment.


“Spanning over three ­decades of service, Colonel McGovern’s commitment and dedication to public safety has made our Commonwealth stronger,” Murray said in the statement.

“We have been fortunate to have a leader of Colonel McGovern’s caliber, someone who understands all phases of public safety,” Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, public safety secretary, said. “She has served at ­every level of her ­career with distinction, and her leadership will be sorely missed.”

McGovern graduated from the State Police Academy and began her career with the force as a trooper in 1979. As a cadet, McGovern completed all of the same physical strength, speed, and endurance tests as her male counterparts at the academy. She served as a detective and rose to lead the detective unit in the Worcester district attorney’s office, Harris said.

For 20 years McGovern investigated child abuse and sexual assault cases, including the June 2000 disappearance of 16-year-old lifeguard Molly Bish in Warren.

McGovern also served as exec­utive officer of the State ­Police Crime Laboratory, deputy commander of training, and she led the Division of Standards and Training, which handles internal inquiries and the State Police Academy.

She helped develop the Combined DNA Index System, which makes profiles of blood samples from individuals convicted of a felony offense available in a national databank.

According to the website, McGovern was appointed to the position of deputy superintendent of State Police in 2009.

She received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Framingham State College and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Westfield State College, Harris said.

Shelley Murphy of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report. Amanda ­Cedrone can be reached at ­