Hooksett names a 'police manager'
Thomas Burke, a retired officer with 31 years of law enforcement experience in Bedford, Manchester and Lyndeborough, will begin his work Monday, according to a news release issued at a special Police Commission meeting Thursday.
Hooksett has been without a permanent police chief since Stephen Agrafiotis was put on administrative leave in September 2011 for violating town budget rules. Capt. Daigle has served as acting chief since then, but in August asked to be removed from the position and taken out of consideration for the chief's job.
Commission members touted Burke's hiring as a sign of their progress in putting in place recommendations in Public Safety Strategies Group's 2011 audit of the department.
'I think what we have right now is a milestone in the path forward,' commission member Kenneth Scherer said.
The PSSG audit had recommended that an interim chief from outside the department could make changes suggested in the audit and act as a mentor for the department for one to two years.
'Acting on that advice from PSSG, the commission was not looking at appointing a permanent chief until it made some progress in implementing the audit's recommendations,' Commission Chair Joanne McHugh said. 'So you see where we are in the audit presently.'
Scherer stated that there had been 'no discussion' regarding the possibility of Burke being considered as a permanent police chief. The commission also did not discuss the current status of the search for a new chief.
After the announcement, the commission issued an administrative directive calling on Burke to 'assume responsibilities for the operational control of the police department, deployment of the police personnel, and management of the police equipment and facilities.'
The directive named Burke 'chief executive officer of the police department' and granted him powers to 'issue such lawful orders and directives to all civilian and sworn police department personnel as are necessary to uphold and enforce the laws of the state of New Hampshire and the town of Hooksett, and to ensure the effective performance of the Hooksett Police Department.'
Burke began his career as a training officer with the Manchester Police Department, in charge of the in-house training academy. He served for 18 years with the Bedford Police Department, where he developed and oversaw the department's field training program and ascended to second-in-command before retiring in 2003. He has since served as a deputy sheriff with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Burke was also Officer in Charge for the Lyndeborough Police Department from March 2011 until June, when he resigned in protest after the town's Board of Selectmen directed him to fire Sgt. Paul Roy in a move Burke described in his letter of resignation as 'unethical' and without 'just cause.'
At the time, Burke said he believed selectmen were retaliating against Roy for his involvement in a misconduct investigation involving Selectman Donald Sawin. Roy was fired two days after Burke's resignation.