FREMONT — Selectmen have named a longtime member of the Derry Police Department as the town’s new police chief.
Derry Lt. Jon Twiss will replace the town’s former chief, Neal Janvrin, who was fired from the part-time position last August.
Selectman Greta St. Germain, board chairman, said the board voted Monday to appoint Twiss after he was recommended by an independent police chief search committee.
The committee also recommended acting Fremont Police Chief Denny Wood, a Fremont resident and sergeant with the Brentwood Police Department who planned to keep his full-time job in Brentwood and also serve as Fremont chief if appointed.
“We felt that we made the best decision on what we advertised for and who could give us 100 percent of his time,” St. Germain said.
The appointment comes about a month after selectmen agreed to settle a wrongful termination suit brought by Janvrin after his firing.
Selectmen claimed Janvrin was physically unstable in the field and had a “confrontational” attitude toward other officers, among other things.
They also claimed that Janvrin failed to observe established procedures and protocols and that his judgments and decision making were inconsistent.
Janvrin adamantly denied the accusations and maintained that the firing was “discriminatory.”
Wood, who was the search committee’s No. 1 pick for Janvrin’s replacement followed by Twiss, expressed disappointment in the board’s 2-1 decision but vowed to help the new chief in any way he can.
“I was notified that I was not selected to be the chief of police for the town of Fremont because there were concerns over the amount of hours I would work. Although I strongly disagree with that decision, I will continue to do the job that’s required of me until the new chief of police is settled in and I’ll assist him in every way until he gets comfortable and is all set to continue with the job on his own,” Wood said Thursday.
St. Germain admitted she had concerns about Wood being able to handle working 32 hours a week as police chief in Fremont and 40 hours in Brentwood.
St. Germain and Selectman Leon Holmes Sr. voted in favor of hiring Twiss while Selectman Brett Hunter voted in opposition.
Wood has been working 24 hours a week after selectmen appointed him acting chief and said there have been no problems with the time commitment.
St. Germain praised Wood for his work at the police department since taking over as interim chief.
“Denny has served us well and he’s gone above and beyond for us and he has certainly helped us out in a time of need,” St. Germain said.
Wood said he was asked to step in at a “fairly tumultuous time and there was a lot of stress and a lot of shadow cast on the board of selectmen for their decision to terminate Neal Janvrin.”
“As I leave department morale is up and we’ve gone full speed ahead with this agency as if nothing had happened,” he said.
Selectmen have not agreed on a salary for Twiss yet but were expected to discuss pay at Thursday night’s board meeting.
While he is still a full-time Derry police lieutenant, St. Germain said Twiss would leave his position in Derry to focus solely on the Fremont chief’s job.
“I think he’s going to bring a lot of expertise to the town,” she said.
Twiss, who is expected to take over the department next month, could not be reached for comment.