By Nancy Arsenault
Former Stow Police Chief Joseph J. Rebello, 55, passed away on June 29 as a result of a head-on motorcycle crash on Rt. 14 in Woodbury, VT.
Rebello was travelling with three other riders, including former Hudson Police Chief Richard Braga who suffered critical injuries. The other two riders escaped the impact when a Subaru, driven by a 57-year-old man, crossed the center line into oncoming traffic. The accident is being investigated and, as of press time, no charges have been issued against the car’s driver.
Rebello had recently retired after serving for eight years as the police chief in Kingston, Mass. He took that position after leaving Stow where he had served as Chief for four years, moving his family from Belchertown to Stow. His successor in Stow, retired chief Mark Trefry, said Rebello was a leader and someone who looked to bring the department forward in many ways, including upgrading technology and making the police force more visible in the community.
Stow Sergeant Tim Lima said that Rebello took over in Stow at a time when leadership was needed and morale was low. Rebello brought computer technology into the patrol cars, allowing officers to access records and information more easily, keeping them out on the streets and able to become more effective.
Lima said that Rebello’s passion for motorcycles was evident in his support of a motorcycle patrol position within the Stow Police. “We had a motorcycle and when you were out on that, it brought you much closer to the residents and the general public,” said Lima. He said that Rebello’s leadership really made officers accountable and set high standards for the department.
Jim Dunlap, a resident and former Selectmen and town volunteer, credited Rebello’s leadership and integrity with turning around a police department that Dunlap feels was faltering, at the time. “It was a period of instability when Rebello came in,” said Dunlap. “He set the bar and fortunately, that bar was set high. He believed that policing was truly local, and it really is. He brought the police out into the community, helping out at Springfest and getting to know the residents. He also really supported women’s rights, and focused a lot on spousal abuse issues. This might be a quiet little town and you can wait forever for a gas station to get held up, but there are always domestic abuse and spousal abuse issues, even in a small town. He was very personally involved in those types of things,” concluded Dunlap.
A wake and Remembrance of Life event was held in Kingston this past weekend. Rebello is survived by his wife Kathleen and two children, Devin and Michael, as well as many extended family members.
In lieu of flowers, Joe’s family requests donations be made to support the recovery of Joe’s riding companion, Chief Richard Braga (Ret), who was severely injured in the accident. The Hudson Massachusetts Police Association has established the Recovery Fund for Richard Braga, account number 2187. Anyone wishing to contribute may do so under this name or the account number to the Hudson Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union at 25 South Street Plaza, Suite 2, Hudson, MA, 978-562-7878