By Dan Murphy
When Bernard “Bernie” O’Rourke steps down from his role as superintendent of the Bureau of Field Services for the Boston Police on Thursday, it will conclude a career with the department that spanned exactly 39 years.
“It’s been a long time, but it’s also gone by quite rapidly,” said O’Rourke, who turns 64 on the day of his retirement. “It seems like just yesterday I signed up for the department.”
A South Boston native, O’Rourke joined the Boston Police on Jan. 12, 1978, as a member of its mounted unit before serving as a patrol officer for District D-4 and D-14, which includes the Back Bay, Fenway and the South End, and Brighton and Allston, respectively. O’Rourke was promoted to captain in 1998 and, a year later, was named commander of District A-1, which includes downtown, Beacon Hill, Chinatown and Charlestown.
“My years downtown and in Charlestown were a big part of my career,” said O’Rourke, who presided over A-1 for 12 years. “The officers were nothing but the best, and I made a lot of good friends there in the department and the community.”
Paula O’Keeffe, chair of the Beacon Hill Civic Association Safety Committee, told The Boston Globe, ““Bernie has a wonderful sense of humor that could defuse trouble quickly. He was the perfect example of community policing.”
In 2011, O’Rourke was named deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Field Services and promoted to superintendent of the bureau three years later.
“Working in the Bureau of Field Services offered me a different perspective be helping to provide police coverage during Occupy Boston, as well as Patriots and Red Sox championship parades,” O’Rourke said. “The guys showed an enormous amount of restraint and professionalism, which shows the true caliber of our officers out on the street.”
Commissioner William B. Evans told the Globe that O’Rourke was among the department’s most adept officers at handling crowds.
“It’s a big loss for the city,” Evans added. “I’m losing a good leader and a good friend.”
Meanwhile, O’Rourke knows he is leaving the department in good hands.
“I’m consistently amazed by officers in the street doing yeoman’s work, answering calls and just doing a great job,” O’Rourke said. “The department also has a great commissioner and command staff, and I know they will continue to do well. I wish them all the best of luck.”