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New Ipswich Police Department plans community programs

  • The New Ipswich Police Department is back up to full staffing, after multiple months of limited resources. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The New Ipswich Police Department is back up to full staffing, after multiple months of limited resources. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The New Ipswich Police Department is back up to full staffing, after multiple months of limited resources. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NEW IPSWICH — For months, the New Ipswich Police Department has been getting along understaffed — at one time down to just the chief of police and two part-time officers to keep the force afloat. Now, the department is almost back to a full staff and moving forward in a new direction.

Police Chief Tim Carpenter hired his second in command, Lt. Sean Cavanaugh, in November. Since then, three additional officers have been added to the force, bringing the department back to functioning staff levels.

Two of the three hires made by the department in January are fully certified officers who were employed by neighboring towns until they made the switch to New Ipswich, which has been making an effort in recent months to increase the enticements for certified officers, including upping their offered base pay. In November, the Select Board agreed with Carpenter to draft a budget for the upcoming year with increased starting pay for certified officers. The base pay is now $55,000 per year, reflecting the pay for certified officers in towns of similar population and size, in an attempt to draw in additional candidates to fill the then-empty positions.

In January, the town hired Scott Radford, formerly a member of the Jaffrey Police Department, Michael Needham, formerly a full-time member of the Temple-Greenville Police Department and first-time police officer Tony Rizzitano, who graduated from the 153rd N.H. Police Academy in January.

Along with the two current part-time officers, Mark Krook and Michael Walker, that brings the department just shy of its full capacity, with room for one additional full-time member. The department plans to move forward with the hiring process for a sixth full-timer this summer, according to Cavanaugh in an interview in the Police Department Thursday.

For now, the department is settling into a new normal, and putting a full roster to good use by being more proactive in their police work, said Cavanaugh. As the officers learn the town, and the department reviews its procedure and protocol with the new hires, they’re also focused on moving in a direction that’s more community-orientated than before, he said.

The department plans to sponsor multiple community programs in the future, said Cavanaugh, and has already scheduled two of them: one instructing the community how to put together a neighborhood watch program on March 19 and the other on drug awareness on April 29. Both will be held at Mascenic High School at 6 p.m.

This is just the start of the programs the department would like to share with the community, said Cavanaugh. He said he has run several community-based instructional programs in the past that he would like to bring to New Ipswich.

Some of the programs residents will see in the future are gun safety classes, self-defense for women and a Citizen’s Police Academy, in which residents can take a 10-class course about the ins and outs of what it takes to be a part of the Police Department.

Needham and Radford said in an interview at the Police Department Friday that the extra concentration on interacting with the community was one of the aspects that lured them to New Ipswich from their established jobs at other local police departments.

“I talked to Chief Carpenter about the direction he wanted to take in rebuilding the Police Department and where he wanted it to go, and it was right in line with where I was looking to go and how I like to police,” said Radford of the community programing.

Needham agreed, and also said he was looking forward to the challenge of working in a department that is rebuilding itself from the ground up.

Since both Needham, Radford and Cavanaugh have spent multiple years in other nearby police forces, they said there is already a sense of camaraderie among the crew, despite the fact that none of them have worked together in the same department before, said Radford.

“I knew [Needham] was looking to come over. I had worked with Lt. Cavanaugh on the [Southwest Regional] SWAT team . I basically already knew the players that were here and coming here, and I liked the people involved, and that’s one of the things that made it a no-brainer,” said Radford.

“When you all get along and are on the same page, it makes it all different,” agreed Needham.

And although the new department has only had a few weeks to find a new normal, the group has managed to gel together already, noted Radford. “We all get along excellent. It’s probably one of the closest-knit Police Department’s I’ve worked with so far,” he said.

Cavanaugh said the new staff at the department has been showing a positive attitude and been working towards being out in the community more to improve relations. “Not everyone’s going to like being policed, but there’s no reason to go out there with a bad attitude,” said Cavanaugh. “If you go out with a good attitude, the way the town’s policed is going to be different, and I think the residents are already seeing that. We couldn’t be happier with the guys we have now.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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