Walpole Police Chief Mike Paquette

Mike Paquette retired as police chief Wednesday, though he will continue to work part-time in the department for a few months.

WALPOLE — Wednesday marked Mike Paquette’s last day as Walpole’s police chief, after 22 years with the department.

Paquette, 55, said he stepped down because he wants to spend more time with his family. He plans to stick with the department for a bit longer, though, working part time for a few months before officially retiring.

“I am very blessed, and the community has been just wonderful to the police department and myself,” said Paquette, a town resident. “I have no regrets and am very thankful to be able to retire out of Walpole.”

Lt. Justin Sanctuary, who has been with the department for 17 years, is his successor, officially taking over the role today.

And with so many years working closely with Paquette — who was appointed chief in 2011 after David Hewes retired — Sanctuary said he is up for the challenge.

“It’s good ... I’m pretty familiar and comfortable with it,” said Sanctuary, 41.

He started his career with Walpole’s department, and said he is “one of the rare ones” who hasn’t moved on to a different squad.

“We think he’ll do an excellent job as chief,” said Walpole selectboard Chairwoman Cheryl Mayberry. “He’s been with the Walpole PD for several years, and he is a really great officer, so we think he will do a great job.”

Looking forward, Sanctuary said he doesn’t foresee making any major changes at first. Rather, he wants to focus on keeping Paquette’s work intact.

“He set things up really well,” he said, “and kept things running smoothly.”

For example, Sanctuary said the department is fully staffed at 10 officers, which is “rare these days.”

Paquette also noted this, saying it’s one of the things he’s most proud of about his time as chief.

“When I first started, there was only a couple of us who were full-time … so I think that is a good growth part that I have helped do with the police department,” Paquette said.

He added that he is grateful for the community’s support over the years, whether it be approval of hiring a new officer or simply respecting the work it does.

“I thank the community for everything they’ve done and given to me over the years,” he said.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.