By Rod Lee
New Douglas Chief of Police Nick L. Miglionico is refreshingly candid in discussing his life and his career in law enforcement.
He will, for instance, allude to being a bit of a hellion as a boy.
The son of a construction worker and a mom who waitressed for years at Friendly’s Restaurant in Webster, Chief Miglionico (it is pronounced Mig-li-on-ico) grew up on North Main St. in that town, “between the credit union and the projects, in a nice little two-decker. I wasn’t the easiest kid to raise,” he said in his office in the Douglas Municipal Center on Depot St. the afternoon of January 30th.
Today there is no evidence that the chief is anything but the epitome of courtesy and good manners with a wife (Becky) who he met while pursuing a criminal justice degree at Westfield State and two daughters; one of whom, Jordan (as he likes to say) was born the very day he was supposed to take his civil-service exam—and did, getting to the hospital just in time for the grand event. “It was snowing that day, a little crazy, but it all worked out,” he says.
So has the profession he chose, although, starting out, “it was hard to get on a police force,” he notes. “I was going all around New England” looking for the opportunity. Between 1996 and 1999 he worked full-time for the Department of Youth Services in Westborough and then as a part-time patrolman in Dudley, Webster and Douglas. He was hired full-time in Douglas in 1999. He was sworn in by Judge Gerald A. Lemire of Uxbridge District Court as the town’s new police chief in December.
One reflection of Chief Miglionico’s eagerness “to protect and serve” in a deferential manner is his habit of coming to the door to personally greet visitors and lead them to his office; and then seeing them out the same way afterwards. Another is his emphasis on transparency.
The town of Douglas, he said, lends itself to this approach. “It’s nice, busy enough to keep you busy but not busy enough to go crazy. You know everyone so people are more apt to work with you.” The Douglas PD is active in nurturing the public’s trust, as for example by collecting toys for “New England Cops” (children of officers who have been killed in the line of duty) and Toys for Tots; and with its support of the Worcester County Food Bank.
This philosophy apparently flows through the Douglas Police Department, which consists of “fifteen of us.” The chef, a lieutenant, a detective sergeant, three patrol sergeants and “the rest are patrolmen, and we have six part-timers.” Last year, he said, the department had “about 17,000 calls for service.”
Transparency, he said, has its bounds. “I’m back and forth with Facebook,” he said, of the Douglas PD’s Facebook page. “I’m not into shaming someone. If someone makes a mistake I have a hard time putting that out there.
“With the new public records law, anything we produce is basically open to be seen. We try to be as transparent as we can.” Social media, he said, “is great for investigations. You’d be surprised what you can find. Last week a woman posted a picture of a truck and within two days we had a license plate and an arrest for trespassing.”
Opioids, he said, “are just as prevalent” in Douglas “as anywhere else. We carry Narcan. It has saved countless lives.” Like many in law enforcement these days, including Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, Chief Miglionico is of the mindset that “we have to go after not the users so much but the dealers. Some of the users you arrest are the most honest people you’d ever meet.” With the sheriff’s outreach on behalf of people addicted to drugs, including opioids, Mr. Evangelidis is doing “some outstanding work on the drug front. He is very much a part of the law-enforcement community.” So too is the Blackstone Valley Drug Task Force, which is targeting not the user as much as “the guy selling the forty-pound bag of dope. We ask the user, ʽwhat’s your situation? Why are you buying?’”
As for legalized marijuana, Chief Miglionico says “it’s hard for us in law enforcement to accept it but we have to deal with it. When some of us first started marijuana was illegal. Now it’s a civil, not a criminal, offense.” Complicating the issue is “there is no real set of field sobriety tests for marijuana, nothing yet for us to go by.”
Chief Miglionico lives in Dudley and is perfectly comfortable working in Douglas with no aspirations at the age of forty-nine to move into a busier environment (his brother Jason is with the Auburn PD).
“I started here and I want it to end here,” the chief said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.