DANVILLE — Police Chief Wade Parsons admits it’s been a tough year for him on both personal and professional levels, but he hopes voters in March will return him to the job he’s held for the past 18 years.
For the first time since becoming chief in 1995, Parsons will face opposition at the polls.
Danville police Sgt. Ryan Furman is running against his boss for a three-year term as the town’s fulltime police chief.
“I honestly don’t know why Ryan is choosing to run, but it’s certainly his right and privilege to do so,” Parsons said Tuesday.
Furman said he’s seeking the job because he’s not happy with how the department is being run.
“We have a lot of management issues,” he said.
Parsons said Furman informed him about his plans to run after he filed his paperwork with the town clerk’s office, but he doesn’t think the race will be a distraction at work.
“Ryan has his responsibilities here and I have mine. We both know what roles we play,” he said.
Parsons is launching his bid for reelection while also defending himself after he was accused of improperly storing his firearm last year.
He faces a negligent storage of firearms charge after 15-year-old Jacob Carver committed suicide using the chief’s loaded Glock-22 .40-caliber handgun on March 11, 2013.
County prosecutors accuse Parsons of leaving the gun unsecured in a closet at his Danville home.
Carver was the son of Parsons’ girlfriend, Debbie Carver.
“The past year was obviously very difficult for Deb and I and our respective families,” said Parsons, who is now in his 30th year with the Danville Police Department — the last 18 years as chief.
But Parsons has tried not to let the tragedy get in the way of his work as police chief.
“I love the community and the people that live here. I feel like I have a lot more to offer and I remain diligent in finding ways to better serve the community,” he said.
Furman said his decision to seek the position has nothing to do with the problems Parsons has faced since the suicide. In fact, he said he decided to run about a year and a half ago but had to wait until Parsons’ term was up this year.
He expressed outrage after reading a comment by Selectman Shawn O’Neil in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Union Leader. O’Neil, who has remained supportive of the chief, was quoted as saying that he believed Furman was running because he was “trying to take advantage of a man while he’s down.”
“I’m appalled, not only as an officer but as a citizen of this town, that a selectman would issue a false accusation of me knowing full well the number of issues in this department that were there before that unfortunate incident O’Neil is speaking of. So much for honor and integrity he boasts so often about,” said Furman, who was hired as a Danville officer in December 2000 and has been a sergeant for the last six years.
If reelected, Parsons said he hopes to spend more time at the elementary school working on programs with the students. He also plans to explore options for creating a teen center in town.
Parsons has been actively involved in planning community events over the years. He organized town movie nights and the town’s first music festival last year.“This is my home, my community. I love the people that live here, and I’ve always been active in trying to find ways to bring people together,” he said.
At the police department, Parsons said he designed the police department’s first website, introduced the use of Twitter as a way of reaching out to the community through social media, and last year pushed for the Code RED emergency alert system, which the town’s police, fire and other public safety officials to send out mass notification messages.
Parsons has been recognized for his police work in recent years. His accolades include the John F. Petrowski Memorial Award in 2012 for contributions in the field of drug enforcement and recognition in 2009 for 25 years of exemplary service to the victims of crime from the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.
“I love coming to work and I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to do while I’ve been here. Hopefully I can continue on the path I’ve been on,” he said.