Morrill named police chief

Sergeant, who has filled position on interim basis since April, had strong public backing

RINDGE — Months after launching a national search, the Rindge Select Board decided to stay in house by offering the police chief position to Sgt. Frank Morrill, who has been interim chief since April.

At a nonpublic session Wednesday at 5 p.m., the Select Board negotiated an employment contract with Morrill. Pending successful contract negotiations, Chairman Jed Brummer told the Ledger-Transcript on Wednesday morning that the Select Board planned to formally announce its decision to hire Morrill during a public meeting at 6 p.m.

Morrill, who has been a sergeant in Rindge for the past eight years, assumed the responsibilities of interim police chief in April when Chief Mike Sielicki resigned citing pay issues and accepted a job as chief of the Kensington Police Department.

At that time, the Select Board appointed Morrill to interim chief for a six-month trial period. Rindge Det. Dan Anair also took on increased responsibilities, which were previously filled by the sergeant. Both Morrill and Anair received a 5 percent pay increase as a result of the staffing changes within the Police Department.

After the six-month trial period, the Select Board said in April that it would either appoint Morrill to chief or advertise to fill the position. But in July, the board unanimously decided on a different approach: to hire an outside consulting firm to assist the board in vetting candidates interested in the position of chief. By September, the board had hired Municipal Resources, Inc., of Meredith for approximately $5,000 to help the town conduct its police chief search.

The board’s decision, however, came despite repeated calls from some residents and Rindge police officers to appoint Morrill on a permanent basis.

A petition that called for Morrill’s promotion was started by Rindge resident Holly Koski shortly after the board announced its decision to hire Municipal Resources, Inc. Koski, who was assisted by her friends and husband collected nearly 200 signatures over a two month period from residents who believed Morrill deserved to be promoted to police chief.

At a Select Board meeting in July, Rindge officers Rachel Derosier and David Blake attended to speak in favor of Morrill’s appointment as the town’s police chief. Blake asked board members whether they were concerned about how their decision could ultimately affect the officers’ morale, adding, “What if this causes a mass exit?”

Derosier told the Select Board that Morrill had the Police Department’s full backing and that such strong support for him should speak volumes.

While Brummer said Wednesday that the selectmen heard the calls from residents and Rindge officers to appoint Morrill on a permanent basis, they believed that a fair and professional search process needed to be taken by the town. Even though town officials chose Morrill in the end, Brummer said, hiring Municipal Resources, Inc., to help conduct the search was the right decision.

The public did not have an opportunity to meet the candidates, but in September residents did fill out surveys that asked what characteristics were most important to them in their next police chief. Selectmen referred to those surveys in making their final decision, Brummer said.

Rindge received 82 applications for chief this summer and, by mid-November, the town had narrowed its search down to four candidates. On Nov. 29, the final two candidates met with the selectmen for one last interview. Brummer said it was at the Nov. 29 nonpublic session that the board offered Morrill the job.

“He has the qualities that we are looking for,” Brummer said, referring to the board’s decision to hire Morrill, “And, he also has the qualities that residents said in the surveys that they want in their police chief.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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