2008-04-03 / News

Lieutenant Donovan - 27 years of Jamestown police experience

By Sam Bari

Lieutenant William Donovan Lieutenant William Donovan Lieutenant William Donovan, 52, joined the Jamestown Police Department on Aug. 25, 1980. He attended the police academy with now retired Sgt. Jack Dube, who was hired four days earlier. Together, they expanded the department to 11 officers.

"When we went to the police academy, it was run by the Community College of Rhode Island," Donovan said. "But we didn't have a real campus. Back then, the 16- week course took the students to different locations. We took the physical training in one place, studied criminal justice in another, and learned about weapons in yet another location. It was all over the place, but the training was thorough."

Since then, Donovan has furthered his education while working as a full-time police officer. He graduated from Salve Regina University, where he received a master's in administration of justice in 1999.

Donovan is a Rhode Island native. He was born in Providence and grew up in Riverside. While attending East Providence High School, he had a friend who was a state trooper. Donovan asked the trooper how to join the state police. The trooper advised him to make an application, and he said the next time they were hiring, they would call him for an interview.

After graduating from high school in 1973, he took the trooper's advice and applied. Unfortunately, too many applicants were ahead of him, and he didn't hear from them for years. While he was waiting, Donovan worked a number of jobs. He was a mechanic for a car dealer and even repaired compressed gas and oxygen equipment for National Medical Equipment.

During that time, he met Teri, who later became his wife. Before they were married, they invested in a house together in the Jamestown Shores. Donovan frequently went to Jamestown to go diving. He and Teri decided they would live in Jamestown after they were married and commute to their jobs in Providence.

After buying the house, they married and started their life together in Jamestown. Then he saw an ad in the local paper advertising for applicants for the Jamestown Police Department. He interviewed with Jim Pemantell, who was the chief at the time, and was hired. Donovan has been with the department ever since.

The Donovans have been married for 28 years, and have three sons, Spencer, 14, and twins Warren and Wilson, who are 8 years old. After living in Jamestown for 19 years, they bought a home in Exeter, where they live now.

"We enjoy living in Exeter," Donovan said. "My son, Spencer is a Boy Scout and I'm a member of the Troop 35 committee. The twins are in the Cub Scouts, and I'm sure they'll follow in Spencer's footsteps."

"The area is a good place to do the things we enjoy together as a family," Donovan said. "We go boating and fishing during the summer, and I still like to dive. And in the fall and winter, I enjoy hunting."

Donovan is also community minded and is the vice chairman of the Exeter Juvenile Board. He explained that the board is an alternative to family court. "We're given a certain amount of latitude to set up programs for juveniles who have committed minor crimes. The idea is to get them back on track without doing jail time." He explained that this does not excuse them from punishment.

"If they do something like, let's say, steal; we might figure out a way for them to make restitution, as well as commit to a number of hours of community service. They will have to report in, and we will monitor their progress. If all works well, they'll straighten out and continue their lives as responsible citizens," Donovan said.

He added, "Other than that, I work out two nights a week at Don Culp's Karate Studio in North Kingstown, and I still enjoy going to work in the morning. I always wanted to be a police officer, and I am privileged to work with a great department in a good town."

His wife, Terri, is a former town clerk for Jamestown.

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