The next chief of the Wilton Police Department is not only one of their own, but he’s also one of the town’s own.

Captain John Lynch, who started with the Department almost 32 years ago, and who has lived in Wilton for 17 years, has been unanimously chosen by the Wilton Police Commission as the next chief of police. He will replace Robert Crosby, who announced that he will be retiring in April. The tentative date of transition is April 3.

“It feels great,” Lynch said of his appointment. “I’m very honored, I’m humbled by the experience. I had hoped that they would stay inside, because that’s very important and we’ve had great success doing so. I had a lot of community support, department support, and it really made it a humbling process. It solidified my existence here. The overwhelming support was amazing.”

Police commission chairman Don Sauvigne said that Lynch was the choice of everyone on the commission.

“We looked at the candidate base internally [within the department]. Having looked at that and speaking with John, the Commission unanimously said John is the right person for this job at this point in time, and we don’t need to look any further.”

Sauvigne also noted, “Once we reviewed that and understood what really great viable candidates we have inside this department, and John coming out on top for us, we didn’t waste any time. We were delighted.”

Lynch began his career with the Wilton Police in July 1985 as a dispatcher and auxiliary officer. He rose through the ranks, working in nearly every capacity of the department and is currently the operations captain and the department’s executive officer.

Lynch has long been a strong proponent of community policing, even starting Wilton’s first Community Bike Patrol in 1996. As part of his discussions with the Police Commission about becoming the chief, Lynch told them that he wants to continue and strengthen the department’s efforts in this area.

“Community service, maintaining that strong community contact and connection–we have a lot of officers that really have made 2016 our most successful, so we’re going to keep that going and try to capitalize on it,” he said.

Another area Lynch says will be critical to focus on is the physical condition of the current police headquarters and whatever progress can be made with a new facility.

“We want to try to get the public in here, to see the current existing conditions and we’re going to work hard toward being fiscally responsible. But building a new building is coming up in the next couple years.”

Both Lynch and Sauvigne say the ability to expedite the appointment will work in the department’s favor. The commissioner said having 6-8 weeks of transition and overlap between Crosby and Lynch will help the department “not miss a beat. We’ll be rolling along as well as ever.” He also noted that the ability to tap current employees to move up points to the strength of the members of the department and the quality of the Wilton officers. “They are all demonstrating the ability to move up through the ranks.”

Lynch said that not only was the swift process easier for him, but that it will make it smoother for the 40-plus other officers under his command as well.

Lynch has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from POST University. He also graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy in 2011.

As for being a Wilton resident, Lynch says it has added depth and dimension to the way he does his job.

“To me it’s worth it. I’m out of the house in an instant, If I hear something on the radio. I’ve been referred to as the fourth patrolman sometimes. If there’s a bad accident I show up to be an extra set of hands, whatever they need. I really try to be active,” he says, noting he still plans on continuing the same way of approaching the job even with the added responsibilities of chief.

“I wish everybody could live in town. It makes a difference for me, personally. The Board of Selectmen–[first selectman] Lynne [Vanderslice], Dick [Dubow], I’ve known for probably 30 years. Some of the key people that are community leaders–my kids went through the school system. The people I see day in, day out,” he said, noting that it can sometimes present some funny marital moments when he goes to the Village Market with his wife, Ann. “Every aisle I’m meeting someone…” he says with a laugh.

To that end, Lynch has served as a Board of Trustee member of the Wilton Historical Society, a Georgetown Fire Department volunteer, previous Wilton Ambulance Corp volunteer and an A Better Chance supporter, among others.