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Retired Newton police chief Mintz to serve as interim department head, mayor says

Newton School Superintendent David Fleishman answers a question as he sits beside former Newton Mayor Setti Warren and then-Newton Police Chief Howard Mintz during a press conference in 2013.
Newton School Superintendent David Fleishman answers a question as he sits beside former Newton Mayor Setti Warren and then-Newton Police Chief Howard Mintz during a press conference in 2013.Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston G

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, who has pledged a sweeping review of policing in the city, announced Thursday that retired police chief Howard L. Mintz will take over as interim head of the department later this month.

Mintz will take over for outgoing Police Chief David MacDonald, who will retire July 17, Fuller said in a statement. Mintz will begin work July 13.

“I am grateful to have Chief Mintz’s long police experience, deep understanding of our Department and our community, and his proven leadership at this time,” Fuller said in the statement. “A person of integrity, he brings a thoughtful, measured and calm presence to this leadership role.”

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MacDonald told Fuller he was retiring the day after the mayor delivered a speech last month pledging a “holistic reassessment” of the role of policing in Newton.

Her pledge came amid national calls in the Black Lives Matter movement for ending police violence against Blacks and other people of color. Locally, the issue focused on a police stop in May of a Black resident while officers were looking for a Boston homicide suspect.

The resident was not the suspect, and Fuller reached out to apologize about the incident. MacDonald also reached out to the resident, he said in a recent interview.

MacDonald also told the Globe he had intended to retire in November, but increasing health and family concerns led him to decide to step down earlier.

MacDonald said important issues have been raised during the Black Lives Movement by protesters and politicians. He said the response from some local officials played a role in his choice to retire early.

“I’ve never shied away from difficult work,” MacDonald said. “But in this environment, perhaps it is time for a different set of eyes to come in.”

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Fuller has praised MacDonald and said he “put the department and the city ahead of himself.”

Mintz, a Newton native who attended the city’s schools, holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, both from Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice, according to the statement. He also holds a professional certificate in police leadership from the Suffolk University Center for Public Management.

Former Mayor Setti Warren appointed Mintz as police chief in 2013. As chief, Mintz hired a full-time social worker within the department to address social and mental health challenges of residents, the statement said.

Mintz stepped down in 2015 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.

His criminal justice career began as a correction counselor with the state Department of Correction in 1979. Mintz joined the Newton Police Department in 1984 as a patrol officer, and rose through the ranks over the years, the statement said.

In Newton, his roles included leading the Patrol Bureau, the Traffic Bureau, and the Support Services Bureau. An in-service training program was developed under his command, the statement said.

He also taught constitutional law to students who enrolled in the department’s Citizens’ Police Academy.

Mintz also created special training to “protect schools and the community in case of homeland security or other threats,” the statement said.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.