East Providence Police Chief Tavares says Swenson will be tough to replace

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EAST PROVIDENCE — With Major Charles Swenson's retirement announcement earlier this week, the East Providence Police Department and Chief Joseph Tavares will be searching for a new second in command, though it won't be an easy task in the chief's estimation.

Major Swenson spent his entire career on the EPPD, moving his way up through the ranks before taking the No. 2 job when Chief Tavares was hired to the position in the fall of 2009.

"When the time came for me to make a decision on who to replace Don Dubois when he retired, the choice was very easy," Chief Tavares said Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 3, hours after Major Swenson's decision to step down was released to the public.

"Charlie is great police officer, a man of integrity, a great family man," the chief continued. "He has all of those qualities you would want in a deputy chief, a chief or an officer. He has all of those things both on an off the job you would want in a person."

Major Swenson notified the chief of his decision on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Having taken New Year's Day off, the news was just sinking in for the department's commanding officer.

"Charlie's a great guy. We've known each other since (East Providence) high school. We graduated in the same Class of 1975," Chief Tavares added. "If you don't like Charlie, the problem is with you not him. I'm just sorry to see him leave."

Born and raised in the city and a product of the East Providence School System, Major Swenson is considered a well-known and respected member of the police community and the city at large. His work as one of the department's lead detectives on major cases in the past earned him the respect of his fellow officers.

"I'm disappointed he has decided to retire because he has truly been a trusted and loyal deputy chief," said Chief Tavares. "He has done 32 years of honorable police work. He's good at so many things. He will always be known for his skills as an investigative detective."

The news still so fresh, the chief said he has yet to consider who he may recommend to replace Major Swenson. Chief Tavares first will discuss the position with City Manager Peter Graczykowski. The two will then broach the subject with the East Providence Budget Commission, which under the legislation creating state oversight has the final say on who is hired for the job.

"We had a great working relationship for the few years we were together," Chief Tavares concluded. "Charlie is going to be a hard guy to replace."

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.