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November 12. 2012 10:24PM

Hooksett expects to have chief in place by January

HOOKSETT - After more than a year without a top cop, Hooksett may have a new police chief in place by the end of the year, according to a police official involved with the search.

"Captain (Jon Daigle) and I are moving quick on this," said newly hired Police Manager Thomas Burke, who was put in charge of the search by the police commission in October. "Hopefully we'll have someone in place by the first of the year."

The police commission and Burke began advertising for the position in late October, sending out an ad drafted by Burke seeking a "progressive leader with a proven record of success in developing, implementing and sustaining innovative programs fostering the efficient and effective operation of a midsize police department."

Hooksett has been without a permanent chief since Stephen Agrafiotis was suspended in September 2011 after being accused of violating town budget laws. He resigned in February of this year. Agrafiotis' suspension was overturned by a superior court judge in August.

While for months the search for a new chief appeared to be stagnating or otherwise neglected, prompting the ire and confusion of some members of the town council and dividing the town, the current search is already well under way, according to Burke.

"(We've had) a lot of candidates," said Burke. "We're going to do fine. I'm confident that we're going to find the right person."

So far, the town has received the news of the search with enthusiasm, in part for the hope that it may conclude what has often been a bitter and divisive issue for the town.

"This marks a milestone in the process," said Town Councilor Todd Lizotte. "To be successful, this type of change needs to go through series of phases that take time. It is easy for people to seek opportunities for instant gratification by skipping steps. As we all know, skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result. I think the police commission is just taking the next logical step."

As police manager, Burke became the civilian administrator of the department on Oct. 15, allowing Daigle, who until that time had been serving as the acting police chief, to return to his duties as captain as he'd requested.

Speaking to earlier confusion about how the search would affect his timeline with the department, Burke disputed initial projections that he would serve as police manager for the town for one to two years, emphasizing his role as a transitional and stabilizing figure.

"I'm trying to get out of here as quickly as I can," said Burke. "It was never spoken about, but one to two years was never in the cards."

The application deadline for the position is Nov. 28. No salary has been advertised.

bclogston@newstote.com


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