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New Gilford police chief: 'I'm here to be chief of police, not to talk about gay rights'

Union Leader Correspondent

June 16. 2014 11:41PM

GILFORD — Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee is not concerned with talking about gay rights, though he is among the first gay police chiefs in the state.

“I’m here to be the chief of police, not to talk about gay rights,” Bean Burpee said Monday. “Though I will say I am fortunate to come from one state with legal gay marriage to another.”

He comes to town from Kennebunk, Maine, where he was a lieutenant. He served in Maine law enforcement for 16 years. Bean Burpee said he and his husband plan to move to Gilford from their home in Sanford, Maine, later this year.

Bean Burpee replaces former chief Kevin Keenan, who resigned on Nov. 20 following a town investigation into an affair he acknowledged having with a female officer in the department.

Bean Burpee began his duties on June 1. Since then, he has been learning the policies of the department and the differences between laws in Maine and New Hampshire.

“You’d be surprised; there’s lots of differences between the laws,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn there.”

He’s also working to create an open atmosphere with his staff, he said.

“At 16 years of experience, my career is relatively short, and there are other officers here with a lot more experience in the field and in this department than I have,” he said. “What’s happened in the past is in the past. I want to have an open-door policy for anyone here who has ideas or who can help.”

He made the move to chief when the younger of his two sons (from a previous marriage) graduated from high school.

“I started looking then; it seemed the right time to make a move,” he said.

He was chosen by Gilford officials from a pool of 47 candidates.

Besides his police work, he has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and two master’s degrees, one in public administration and the other in criminal justice. Burpee worked as an adjunct professor at York Community College in Wells, Maine. He said he hopes to continue teaching in New Hampshire.

He said he chose Gilford in part because it is similar to Kennebunk in being a waterside community.

“I want to be a working chief, be on patrol a lot. I think that keeps you in touch,” he said. “I don’t want to lose the feel of being in a police car.”

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