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Paul Feely's City Hall: Whom will Mayor Craig pick for Manchester's new top cop?

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 19. 2018 8:16PM




The process of selecting the city’s next chief of police is officially underway, now that President Donald Trump’s nomination of Police Chief Nick Willard as the next U.S. Marshal for New Hampshire has been sent to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Willard has been chief for nearly three years, after then-mayor Ted Gatsas nominated him in May 2015.

Willard’s nomination was sent to the Senate on May 7. Lauren Smith, policy and outreach director for Mayor Joyce Craig, said the process to hire a new police chief began last week when the position was posted internally on May 14.

As dictated by city ordinance, the position is posted internally for five working days, a window that closed at 5 p.m. on Friday. Any internal applications received are now forwarded to Craig for her review.

After reviewing the applications, the mayor will make a decision whether to hire from within the department or launch a wider, external search for candidates.

A source familiar with the police department said that Willard is urging Craig to nominate the assistant chief, Carlo Capano, for the job.

Willard selected Capano to be his deputy in June 2015, even before Willard received confirmation for the top job. Capano accompanies Willard to most public events and has been active on social media, just like his chief.

Prior to being named assistant chief, Capano served as a patrol officer, a bicycle officer, a detective, a supervisor, a SWAT team leader and a polygraph operator.

He has received several citations over his career:

• In 2000, the Manchester police Life Saving Medal for saving an 11-day-old infant who was choking to death.

• In 2007, the Chief’s Achievement Medal for his investigation into the fatal shooting of police Officer Michael Briggs.

• In 2012, the Manchester police Honorable Service Medal for work that led to the arrest of three people for a string of violent armed robberies.

The work also received the New Hampshire Congressional Medal.

• In 2014, the Chief’s Achievement Medal for heading up the creation of a citywide effort to reduce burglaries.

Sources said others familiar with the police department and the nomination process have mentioned two other names for consideration: Capt. Maureen Tessier and Lt. Nicole Ledoux. If either were nominated and confirmed, she would become the first female police chief in Manchester (selected by the first woman elected mayor of the Queen City).

Tessier was the first woman in the history of the department to be promoted to captain. She has a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University and has a master’s in administration from UNH.

She joined the force 28 years ago and worked her way up the command chain after serving as a patrol and K-9 officer.

Tessier was awarded the department’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2007, recognizing her actions as the supervisor in charge the night Officer Briggs was shot. He later died from his injuries.

Tessier was community information officer for several years and headed the department’s Legal and Professional Standards Division. She is in a select group of officers to graduate from the FBI Academy.

Ledoux is the third woman officer to make lieutenant and has been with the department for 19 years.

She earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Middlesex Community College and her B.S. in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Ledoux has been a patrol officer, community policing officer, school resource officer and a K-9 officer. She then became a detective with the Child Abuse and Sexual Exploitation Unit.

Ledoux received the department’s Meritorious Service Medal in connection with the Briggs investigation. In recognition of her efforts as a child abuse investigator, she was the recipient of the YWCA Heroes for Justice Award in 2010, and the Hillsborough County Child Advocacy Center Hands of Hope Award in 2012.

She also received a N.H. Congressional Law Enforcement Award in the “Above and Beyond” category, recognizing her dedication in working toward the passage and implementation of a N.H. Senate bill that established a standard for department confidentiality and effective peer-to-peer support.

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When the school board’s Committee on Coordination and Administration voted last month to set up a committee to study the feasibility of student representation, it was a victory of sorts for members of Young Organizers United (YOU), part of the Granite State Organizing Project.

YOU members have attended school board meetings regularly for several years, pleading for a spot at the table during the “public forum” portion of each session.

So when school board vice chair Art Beaudry of Ward 9 read off his list of 13 names to serve on the committee, many in the room were surprised not a single YOU member made the final roster.

“I find that to be a slap in the face to the students who have worked tirelessly to get us to hear them,” Ward 11 committeewoman Katie Desrochers said. “I’m speechless.”

“We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the students from the YOU program didn’t bring this forward on a consistent basis,” Craig said.

“We are very disappointed,” said Charity Kabari, a member of YOU. “We feel we have worked on this a long time and were left out.”

As vice chair, Beaudry has the authority to appoint people to committees. The committee he put forth last week includes the names of four high school students — one student from each city high school. He said he feels criticism he has received over the list of names resembles a case of “shoot the messenger.”

“I asked each principal to submit the name of a student they thought would best represent their schools,” Beaudry said. “They replied with a name, and that’s who I put on the committee. I don’t know these students, and if you look at the minutes of the meeting establishing the committee it calls for one student. I put four on there.”

Craig has asked Beaudry to “go away and think about” adding a YOU member to the committee. Asked late last week if he might change his mind, Beaudry said, “At this time, I don’t intend to.”

If he won’t, a majority of board members might.

Committeeman David Scannell of Ward 2 sent an email to school board members last week pointing out that the vice chair has the authority to appoint all special committees “unless otherwise directed by the Board of School Committee.”

Scannell is asking the group to include a YOU member.

“Clearly, the board has the authority to overrule the vice chair’s appointments to special committees,” Scannell said. “It is my sincere hope that the agenda item will become moot before the meeting and that the vice chair will reconsider his decision.”

If not?

“I will be more than happy to make that motion,” Scannell said. “They (YOU) feel they have done all the work to get here and weren’t given the same opportunity to serve on the committee as the students that were appointed.”

Craig agrees.

“Members of the YOU program have worked hard to get student representation on the Manchester Board of School Committee,” Craig said in a statement late last week.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at pfeely@unionleader.com.


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