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October 09. 2012 11:58PM

Rindge police chief search top priority

RINDGE — Town officials are focused on hiring a police chief, not police regionalization at this time, said Select Board Chairman Jed Brummer.

The town recently received a query letter from the town of New Ipswich, regarding its interest in regionalizing police forces.

Though the board of select men has yet to meet to discuss the issue, Brummer said Monday, “I don't see that happening right now.”

Brummer privately floated the idea to Jaffrey town officials recently and got a no. Jaffrey and Rindge are connected through many streets, including Route 202, and share a school district.

New Ipswich also borders Rindge, but is only connected via back roads.

“The most likely combination would be Jaffrey and Rindge and that's not going to happen right now,” Brummer said.

New Ipswich Town Administrator Marie Knowlton said the letter was sent out by the town's police regionalization committee that formed earlier this year. The letter was sent to bordering towns, Rindge, Sharon, Greenville and Mason.

If no towns respond with interest it is likely the last act of the regionalization committee, she said. “I think this is a key factor. If they find a town that is willing to talk about it, I think they will move forward.”

Greenville, which already has a regionalized police force with the town of Temple has already declined, she said.

“The outlook is bleak,” she said.

The idea is to save money through shared resources and staff, Knowlton said.

Brummer agrees regionalization could save money in the long run, but in these hard economic times it would not have the immediate savings residents are looking for.

Rindge also has special circumstances having a university in its town.

Right now Rindge town officials are focused on the hiring of a new police chief, Brummer said. “I've looked into regionalization, the last three or four years whether it's the fire department or police department. And especially since we are going through the process of picking a new chief.”

Sgt. Frank Morrill was named Interim Chief when former Police Chief Michael Sielicki left earlier this year.

Morrill is popular with residents, Brummer said, and many want him to simply be hired as chief. Morrill has also worked closely with Franklin Pierce University since becoming Interim Chief and is close to signing a new memorandum of understating between the university and police force, which was long overdue, Brummer said.

However, the town is proceeding with a thorough vetting process.

“I think it's going to mean a lot more to the chief and the officers that all the proper vetting, public input and screening be conducted,” Brummer said.

Meredith consulting firm Municipal Resources Inc. has been hired to conduct the initial process. Residents have also been asked for input via a survey.

About 70 applicants have applied so far with 85 to 95 percent of those applicants applying from out of state, said Brummer.

MRI is expected to recommend three to four applicants soon for the selectmen to interview.

The board expects to hire a new chief mid-November.

Brummer said he expects Morrill to be at the top of MRI's list.

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Meghan Pierce may be reached at mpierce@newstote.com.


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