Not having that familiarity will be one of Galvin's first challenges when he leaves his post at the Wayland Police Department to become the next police chief for the Berlin Police Department.
"It’s going to be a lot of just getting to know the people, the department and the community," Galvin said. "I think that’s going to be my primary focus in the beginning."
Galvin emerged as the top choice for Berlin's new chief from a pool of three finalists and, in early July, selectmen tapped Galvin, who now lives in Hudson. His last day with Wayland will be Monday, Sept. 2 and he'll start in Berlin on Monday, Sept. 9.
"It’s a combination of excitement and nerves," Galvin said. "For the first time, it’s going to be something entirely new. Now, the buck stops with me. I’m the one in charge. If there’s a problem… it all falls back on my shoulders."
Galvin will inherit a department staffed with seven full-time officers and about eight part-time officers for a town of under 3,000 people. Berlin is small, Galvin said, but he sees a number of similarities between it and Wayland.
In particular, he explained, two major commercial centers are under development in Berlin, projects that will present entirely new considerations for him as chief.
“I look at Berlin now as what Wayland used to be when I was a kid growing up – just a small New England town," he explained. “Now Wayland, with its proximity to Boston and the roads going through it had no choice but to evolve into what it is now. [Berlin is] a town going through a transition."
Wayland Police Chief Robert Irving said that whatever transitions may come, he's confident in Galvin's ability to handle them.
"I always thought he was sharp," Irving said. "He's had a great career here and the knowledge, experience and training he's gained will serve the community of Berlin well.
"We're going to miss him and I wish he wasn't going," Irving continued. "Our loss is their gain."
Galvin joined the Wayland PD in 1998 while his father, Gerald Galvin, was still the town's chief. The elder Galvin retired in 2001, and Tom Galvin continued to rise through the ranks of the department and take advantage of the training and opportunities available to him, including attending the FBI Academy.
His time at the FBI Academy, he said, solidified his desire to move into department administration.
"When I went to the FBI Academy, it was really the elite of the law enforcement community," Galvin said. "I was able to feel that I belonged, that I actually had the skills to lead a department."
For the past two-plus years, Galvin said, he has put his name in the hat for consideration for a few chief jobs in small communities around the state and was a finalist for the spot in Merrimac and Lunenberg.
The job in Berlin happens to come at a time of major transition for the Galvin family as his wife has recently take a job with the Town of Hudson and his daughter is just weeks away from starting kindergarten.
As he looks ahead to his new role and challenges, Galvin said he's also looking back on his time in Wayland.
“It’s really the people that I’ll miss, the residents and the other officers in the department," Galvin said. "I feel like I've been part of the community for so long. I would just say 'Thank you.' I’ve had an incredible 39 years here between growing up and working for the town. I’m going to miss it a lot.”
Galvin will be sworn in at the Berlin Board of Selectmen's meeting on Monday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.. There will be a farewell party for him at the Natick VFW on Sept. 6.
Editor's Note: We incorrectly noted that Galvin has a son starting kindergarten soon. In fact, it is his daughter. The story above has been corrected.