Process to interview, hire police chief takes shape

LYNDEBOROUGH — The search process for a chief of police is moving forward, with the Select Board appointing three members to a citizens panel that will interview candidates and asking the Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board and the town’s Budget Committee to select two more people to fill out the committee.

At the Sept. 4 Select Board meeting, residents Mark Schultz, Burton Reynolds and Bob Rogers were named to the citizens panel. Schultz is a former Lyndeborough police chief. Reynold is the acting town administrator and Rogers is a former selectman.

At Town Meeting in March, residents narrowly approved a petition warrant article directing the board to hire a police chief rather than continuing with the officer-in-charge system. The board has narrowed the field of candidate to three finalists, whose names have not been released.

The next step for those finalists will be interviews with a board of law enforcement professionals, who will then make recommendations to the Select Board. Members of the board are State Police Capt. John LeLacheur, State Police Lt. Christopher Wagner and police chiefs Brent Hautanen of Wilton, James Brace of New Boston and Mike Viola of Milford.

The Select Board is planning to schedule the interviews during the last week in September. At the meeting, Select Board member Fred Douglas said the board should be able to report back to the Select Board promptly, so that interviews by a citizens’ panel could take place in early October.

Disagreements arose among the three Select Board members during discussion of the makeup of the citizens’ panel. Board Chair Kevin Boette suggested a five-person panel, made up of a resident of at least five years with law enforcement experience, the town administrator, a former elected official, a member of the Budget Committee and a member of the School Board from Lyndeborough.

Douglas said voters in March had approved a petition warrant article that called for just three people — a former elected town official, a person with law enforcement experience, and a taxpayer of at least five years — to serve with the selectmen on the citizens’ panel.

“The verbiage of Town Meeting is what we should follow,” Douglas said.

“I think a School Board member from Lyndeborough would be good,” Boette said. “It would add an extra perspective.”

“I think covering all the bases is following the intent of Town Meeting,” said board member Arnie Byam. “It’s above and beyond what was requested.”

The board voted, 2-1, with Douglas dissenting, to name five people to the citizen’s panel.

They then quickly agreed to appoint Schultz and Reynolds, who is serving as acting town administrator, to the citizens’ panel. They also agreed to ask the Budget Committee and the Wilton-Lyndeborough School Board to recommend a member to serve on the panel.

But they couldn’t quickly agree on which former elected official to appoint.

Douglas nominated Rogers, who had submitted a written request to be on the panel and was in attendance at the meeting. But Rogers said he’d prefer to defer to Ron Curran, also a former Select Board member who had expressed interest.

Boette said he would not vote to recommend Curran, while Douglas said he would. That left the decision up to Byam, who said since Curran wasn’t at the meeting, he would not vote to appoint him. The board then agreed that Rogers should be the former elected official on the panel.

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