Richard MacLean followed his father to the Sudbury Police Department

SUDBURY — For more than 60 years, there has been a MacLean in the Sudbury Police Force.

sergeant. Richard MacLean joined the department on January 23, 1990, just two months after his father, John “Bob” McLean, retired after 32 years with the department. Together with his father, his grandfather and his uncle were special city policemen.

Bob MacLean was a popular figure in town. To this day, Richard MacLean has people who share memories of his father with him, even though he passed away more than 15 years ago.

“He was really well known here,” said MacLean, 57. “Sudbury was a different place back then. Everyone knew my father. He was the security guard and went to all the schools. He was also an artist. He would draw a picture of a three-headed child trying (anyhow) to cross the road and people would always come up to me and talk about him. The elders still remember him.

MacLean started as a special officer five years before joining the department full-time after graduating from what was then North Adams State College (now the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts).

MacLean started at the dispatch center, then went on patrol before training with the Massachusetts State Police in 1996 to become certified in crime scene investigation.

“I learned about evidence collection and crime scene services and things like that,” he said.

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Later, when Sudbury joined the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council, MacLean became a computer forensic investigator and detective with the Sudbury Police Department.

“I’ve done computer investigations, drugs…when you’re a department this size, you’re kind of a jack-of-all-trades,” he said. “You kind of do everything.”

Sudbury Police Sgt.  Richard MacLean, January 20, 2022.

MacLean was promoted to sergeant in 2004 and is currently the day shift supervisor.

He said there were many memorable moments, including an accident early in his career in which a woman was killed after being nearly cut in half. It was the first time he had seen a corpse.

But, MacLean said, it’s the little things that stand out for him (other than the things he can’t share publicly because they’re private between him and the other officers).

“You have feel-good stories about helping people who really appreciate it,” he said. “Right now there’s an anti-cop sentiment, but I really think it’s the vocal minority. Got a card this morning from the temple down the street thanking us for all we’ve done during the pandemic.”

“It’s the people who put the cookies down,” he continued. “They are the majority. It’s the little things you do. You have a big dramatic thing when you go on a stage and give someone CPR and do a stoppage, and you think that’s the one that stands out, but it’s really the little things like helping someone who’s broke down on the side of the road. It means the world to them and they send you a card, and it’s things like that that you remember.

MacLean said he didn’t know how long he would stay on as a police officer.

“It’s a bit of an everyday thing,” he said. “The police are no longer what they were 32 years ago. There have been many changes. I’m an old dog but you can teach me more tricks. It’s kind of a young man’s game. I can’t lie if I haven’t thought about retirement.

Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or [email protected] For the latest public safety news, follow Norman Miller on Twitter @Norman_MillerMW or on Facebook at

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