Interim manager chosen for Rindge

Mike French will head the police department during search for new full-time chief

RINDGE — After the recent resignation of Police Chief Frank Morrill, the Select Board has selected an interim manager to fill the position of chief after April 30, until a new chief can be permanently hired, according to Select Board Chair Roberta Oeser.

The search for a new police chief will begin immediately, said Oeser, with the assistance of Municipal Resources, Inc., a company that both provides professional, technical, and managerial support services to towns, and assists with job searches for those same jobs. The town has used the company several times in the past, including in the late 1990s, when the town first acquired a town administrator, and during the search for a police chief two years ago, after which the town ultimately promoted Morrill to the position. The town has hired an interim manager to take the place of Morrill, once he officially steps down from his position at the end of the month. Municipal Resources estimates that a full-scale search for a new chief will take approximately 90 days from the start of the search.

In the meantime, the department will be run by an interim manager, Mike French, a former Goffstown police chief. French is currently a senior consultant with Municipal Resources, specializing in public safety. The town will be paying Municipal Resources a rate of $78 per hour for French’s services. Municipal Resources recommended a 24-hour work week for French’s managerial services. Oeser said she does not know whether French has kept up his police certification, or whether he will be assisting with routine policing duties, but expects that he will simply maintain a managerial position. The exact duties of the interim manager, or how those duties will differ from those of a police chief, will have to be clarified when contracting French’s services.

Morrill, in his resignation letter to the board, indicated his willingness to continue in the position of interim chief until a replacement could be hired. However, Oeser said, the board, in preliminary discussions for how to handle the running of the police department in the immediate aftermath of Morrill’s resignation, decided to go with an employee provided by Municipal Resources. The cost to pay the contracted employee for 24 hours per week will be less than the weekly cost of Morrill’s current full-time salary and benefits, said Oeser.

There is also another benefit that will be provided by French — a managerial study of the police department.

“Two years ago, we attempted to have a contracted study of the police department, and it eventually got scuttled,” said Oeser. “He’ll do that as part of his time as interim manager.” The cost of the study will be included in the hourly wage paid by the town, whereas a contracted study could cost up to $12,000, Oeser added. That was another factor in the town choosing to use an interim manager.

“We’re looking at it as a real opportunity,” said Oeser. “I think the board decided this was a good opportunity to get the study done.”

The total cost of the Municipal Resources police chief search is $4,000, above and beyond the wages paid the interim manager during the search. This is a reduced price from the last time the town used Municipal Services to search for a police chief, when the town was charged $6,400. The lower price is, in part, because the town elected to use a Municipal Services employee as interim manager.

In his resignation letter, Morrill indicated he would like to stay on in the department as a part-time patrol officer after stepping down as chief. The board has not yet made any determination on Morrill’s future employment with the police department, according to Oeser.

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