NASHUA — Few details have been released about the absence of Deputy Police Chief Scott Howe since his departure two months ago, but the matter could be resolved within a month, one city police official said.
Howe was placed on paid administrative leave June 22, and Police Chief John Seusing and Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas have refused to explain what prompted the decision.On Friday, however, Pappas said he is expecting a conclusion in the coming weeks.
"I'm hopeful that we will have a resolution in about a month," said Pappas, Nashua Police Commission chairman.
During the past two months, officials have not stated whether Howe's administrative leave is connected to an audit of the Nashua Police Relief Association being conducted by the Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General's Office.
But, on Friday, Pappas said the attorney general's investigation needs to be concluded before Pappas can discuss the possibilities of Howe returning to duty.
"We have no control over the investigation, or the timing of the investigation," he said.
When asked this week about Howe's leave — at a weekly salary of about $2,000 — Seusing again said he cannot comment on the personnel matter. Seusing did, however, stress the importance of having two deputy chiefs on the force.
With Howe out for the past two months, Deputy Andrew Lavoie has been the only active deputy chief with the department.
"Just because we have been functioning with one (deputy) gone, doesn't mean it is the most efficient way to operate," said Seusing. "That is a very much needed position here."
According to Seusing, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has previously mentioned that one deputy chief may be sufficient for the department.
"I couldn't disagree more," said Seusing. The current situation with one active deputy may be working for now, but it is not ideal, he said.
Previously, Seusing told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he asked the Attorney General's Office to audit the Nashua Police Relief Association after learning the nonprofit organization paid Howe to clean a building it owns on Kinsley Street using a Visa debit card.
Anne Edwards, interim dPappas echoed the chief's comments, stressing that the two deputy chief positions are critical for a department with nearly 180 police officers and about 75 civilian employees.
"They really are the CEOs that oversee the operations," said Pappas. "It is too much for one person to adequately oversee all of those operations."The police department never shuts down, he said, maintaining there is stress on any organization that operates around the clock.