Sullivan named new police chief

Former chief, selectman weigh in on the hire; chief talks about his style of policing

DUBLIN — Dublin introduced Stephen E. Sullivan as the town’s new police chief on Monday, after the Board of Selectman and town representatives spent months vetting over 60 candidates for the position.

Sullivan comes well-qualified, with an extensive background as a patrol lieutenant in Portsmouth, RI, where he worked for 20 years. According to outgoing Select Board Chair Charles F. Champagne, Sullivan’s additional experience working with grants and information technology in his previous department, were factors in his being hired.

“He seemed to be a great fit because he had a lot of police experience,” said Champagne. “He’s bringing some maturity to the position.”

In response to the high number of submissions, a committee — including two town residents, May Clark and Dale Gabel, Officer Tim Suokko, the Town Administrator Sherry Miller, and the Board of Selectman — met and formed criteria that the new chief would have to meet. The former Police Chief Jim Letourneau participated in an advisory role.

With a better idea of what the town was looking for, the committee moved forward to review resumes and narrow the list down to six candidates. After a round of interviews and just three candidates remaining, the committee asked for the assistance of Keene Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola in performing comprehensive background checks on each.

According to Sullivan, the conditions of his employment were that he pass a polygraph test, undergo a psychological evaluation, and pass a fitness test. When everything checked out, Sullivan was offered the position, and he started right away.

On Tuesday, the day after his swearing in, Sullivan reported to the Town Hall to meet residents who were there casting votes. From there, he went for his firearms qualifications, necessary for officers to complete for active duty.

Dublin is the type of town he was looking for, said Sullivan in an interview Tuesday night. After researching the town, he knew it would be someplace he and his family could fit in. It would also be someplace where he could be more comfortable with his style of policing.

“I was drawn to the smaller town and slower New England life,” said Sullivan. “I’m more a teachables moment’s type of cop. If you haven’t learned something by the end of a day, it wasn’t a good day.”

Champagne added that while the committee was vetting candidates, it was important to find someone who would be able to talk to members of the community and interact with them on a daily basis.

Champagne said that finding someone with policing experience was important, but that finding someone with the right attitude was important too.

According to Letourneau, the hiring process was very intense but he is encouraged by the committee’s decision to hire Sullivan.

Letourneau retired last year and says that he plans to spend his retirement working on a vacation ranch in Montana during the summer season. He says he will still be a part of the community and live part-time in Dublin.

“As I reflect back, the warmth I received when I gave my notice, it does make you feel pretty good,” said Letourneau. “They’ve embraced me, and I’m thankful for that.”

Being a small town police chief, fire chief or selectmen can be difficult, he added, but in Dublin it’s different because of the close relationships those positions require with the townspeople.

“As much as you give, you get back,” he said. “People are active in their politics and in the end you get a great community. It’s a great place to call home.”

Letourneau says he hopes the people of Dublin will support Sullivan in the same way they supported him while he was the chief.

Sullivan has a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from Rodger Williams University where he graduated in 2012, after his friends in the Portsmouth Police Department suggested it.

“It’s important to have someone who can function as a leader and also patrol the streets,” said Champagne. “We think he brings a good balance to the position and we’re looking forward to him doing a good job.”

“I’m pleased with the outcome, he’s a great guy,” said Letourneau. “Chief Sullivan is going to do a great job and he’s going to fit in here.”

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