Saturday, December 15, 2018

Town Of Lyndeborough Great Chief Of Police Debate

town of lyndeboroughFor many that are not aware there has been a situation in my little Town of Lyndeborough.  For a couple of years now we’ve actually had no Chief of Police.  This is a long story that I do not want or intent to go into, but let’s just say it’s been a divided town for quite some time.  I wanted to take a moment to address this issue to the fellow townspeople in the Town of Lyndeborough as well as those others that wonder how smaller towns like mine run.

Town of Lyndeborough Annual Meeting

This past weekend we had the annual Lyndeborough Town Meeting where two specific warrant articles were of great debate.  One was about the Vetting Process to select a new Police Chief.  The other was about whether we would allow the town’s Board of Selectman to appoint a new Police Chief.  Many of those that know me, have heard me say I am not into politics, but in these two cases I had a very outspoken day at the microphone.

The first one did not bother me so much.  There was originally money tied to it that we amended to remove, which meant it became simply an advisory action.  The selectman could choose to follow the items or not.  Had the money remained attached, they would have had to follow it to the letter.  So I was fine with the article either way personally.

The other article is the one I really am addressing the rest of this blog post to the townspeople I share The Town of Lyndeborough with.  First of all I have been a resident of the town for 9 years now and frankly one thing that grinds my gears is when those that have lived there for 20 or more feel the need to tell me “You don’t know the history”.  Let’s get something straight; I have as much right to speak my opinion even if I lived in town for a month or 20 years.  Okay now that we have dispensed with that let me explain why having a Chief of Police is such an issue.

The State of New Hampshire has on file RSA105 that basically states that you cannot fire any Chief of Police.  This applies to ANY city or town not just ours.  In the past we have had issues in my town with past folks in that position.  However, the Chief of Police reports to the board of selectman, and the underlying problem was essentially there was no paper trail of proof to show any performance problems.

We should not be afraid of the position we should expect that the managers, in this case the board of selectman, do their job with yearly or even bi-yearly performance reviews of that position.  This is no different from any high paying corporate position, and I would submit any and every issue simply must be documented and inserted into this person’s personnel file.  The State of New Hampshire RSA105 is not the issue; the process by which the position is properly managed is the issue.

Town of Lyndeborough Officer In Charge

Secondly, what many people just do not seem to realize is that without a Chief of Police, the Board of Selectmen runs the police department?  We currently have an “Officer in Charge”, which I might add has done an outstanding job in the role.  However, what is being missed by the townspeople is that the OIC, has some information he cannot or should not be telling his current managers.  Our Board of Selectmen does not have Police expertise, with the exception of the newly elected Fred Douglas, former Police Chief of Milford, NH.  What people need to realize is even Mr. Douglas is now a civilian like the rest of the board and cannot be made privy to many aspects of certain cases.   So where is the current OIC supposed to go for real help that a Chief of Police should be there to provide?

The townspeople need to get past their fear of RSA105, and realize that without a chief we could in some cases be worse off having a three-man board of selectman running the law enforcement in our town.  It is their job to hire and manage that role, but it is not their place to be the head of any police department.  What I can tell you is the final warrant article passed 45 to 43.  I will also tell you Julie and I almost did not make the meeting.  So to those that think my vote after 9 years in town does not count…. guess again.

The final thought I will provide everyone in my town that I hope read this, is that the first article about vetting a new Chief, need not apply or it could apply to a promotion from within.  I’m my humble opinion; any current member of our police department including the current OIC if deemed qualified can and should be promoted without the previously mentioned vetting process.  There is nothing in the process that we voted in specifically stated it needed to apply to a promotion.  So if you think promoting from within is “Circumventing the process” as it was stated in the meeting, think again.  We voted for a process to interview and hire a new chief; we did not say that HAD to apply to an internal promotion.

Generally speaking, in any organization it is assumed that an internal promotion the person has already been vetted and PROVEN themselves for consideration of the promotion.  So if the current board of selectman decides to appoint a new Chief of Police, I for one would support it as well as an internal promotion without any additional vetting process.  That process should for sure be used to hire any NEW outside candidate to ensure the proper qualifications.  You can chose to disagree with me, but the fact is just because we voted a vetting process, does not mean it has to be used at all, or for an integral promotion.

The Town of Lyndeborough Got It Right

To those other 44 townspeople that voted to have a Lyndeborough Chief of Police, I commend you for seeing that this is in fact the right thing to do.  I would hope those same people are as clear as I am in the understanding of why it was needed.  They may or may not agree on the promotion component, but it still needed to be said and people need to get out of the past and move forward.  I will say I was already asked by a few people to run for selectman as a “breath of fresh air”, I am still undecided on that.  I invite people reading from the town or other areas to comment on this little situation we may finally have a resolution on.

One comment

  1. I think it’s important to have and choose a new chief. Bureaucratic There are definitely things to be analyzed thoroughly because hinder the proper functioning of the system.

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