Who will be Rindge’s next police chief?
RINDGE — One Rindge resident is advocating that the Select Board appoint Interim Police Chief Frank Morrill to the position of chief on a permanent basis, and she has nearly 200 residents backing her.
With the help of friends and her husband, Holly Koski of Rindge has been garnering support in town over the past couple of months for Morrill and asking residents to sign a “signature support sheet,” or petition, that calls for Morrill’s promotion.
Morrill, who has served as Rindge’s sergeant for eight years, was appointed the town’s interim chief in April, after former Police Chief Mike Sielicki resigned, citing pay issues. Sielicki left Rindge at that time for a job as chief of the Kensington Police Department.
Despite continued objections from some residents, including Koski, who believed the town should promote Morrill, the Select Board hired a professional consulting firm, Municipal Resources Inc., in August to assist in the hiring of the town’s next police chief. Since then, the town has received applications from more than 70 candidates, according to Select Board Chair Jed Brummer.
Koski said in a recent interview with the Ledger-Transcript that, “At the very beginning when Mike Sielicki got his new job and Frank Morrill was placed as interim chief, I felt that Frank was the right person for the job.”
In addition to people hearing about her support sheet by word-of-mouth, Koski spent a recent Friday and Saturday outside the town’s transfer station collecting signatures. She also set up a table at the Rindge Farmers Market and attended the Rindge Women’s Club Harvest Fair. As a result of her efforts, Koski was able to hand the Select Board a petition with 187 resident signatures at the board’s meeting last week.
While Koski said she understands that the board feels it is doing its due diligence by conducting a formal search, she maintains that promoting Morrill is the best way to go.
“There are always going to be people in this town that don’t approve of someone in a position, but if a position becomes available and the person is qualified, meets the job requirements and does right by the community, then why not promote from within and let everyone else look forward to a possible promotion?” Koski asked.
In a letter to the editor published in Tuesday’s edition of the Ledger-Transcript, Koski wrote that she has been impressed with Morrill’s “professionalism, dedication to Rindge, leadership within the Police Department and ability to bring people together to solve community problems.” Koski also noted that overall moral at the police station has improved and interior upgrades made it a more welcoming place.
Select Board member Roberta Oeser said she has talked with many residents in town who support Morrill’s promotion, but she added that there are others who believe in the board’s approach.
“He could be the man for the job, but this process would give him great validation for the people that may disagree,” Oseser said of Morrill.
By electing to hire Municipal Resources Inc., to aid with the police chief search, Oeser said that it helps set the stage for future department head searches in town and ensures that the process is done fairly and professionally.
Prior to the board’s decision in August to hire an outside firm to help vet the candidates for police chief, Rindge officers expressed their full backing for Morrill’s permanent appointment as chief. Officers Rachel Derosier and David Blake attended a Select Board meeting in July where they said not promoting Morrill could jeopardize the morale of the Police Department and/or cause a mass exit of officers from town.
But Oeser said Tuesday that the Select Board can’t be “held hostage,” or blamed, for a decline in morale if Morrill doesn’t ultimately get the job.
“Rindge isn’t a small town anymore, although some would disagree,” Oeser said. “We have to go through a formal hiring process.”
The Select Board is expected to make a decision and hire the town’s next police chief by late November or early December.