Atkinson’s next chief will be a part-timerBy Jason Schreiber
Union Leader Correspondent
January 30. 2014 9:26PM
ATKINSON — The search is on for a new police chief, but it won’t be a full-timer.
Selectmen are moving ahead with plans to hire a part-time chief despite voting last fall to go with a full-time chief to replace former chief Philip Consentino.
The board was in the process of trying to find a new full-time chief with help from the New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs when members decided last Saturday to look for a part-time chief instead.
They changed their minds after hearing from residents who wanted to keep it a part-time position.
“The feedback was immediate and it was vocal that the town didn’t need a full-time chief and wanted to stay with a part-time chief,” Town Administrator Bill Innes said.
Citizens also proposed a warrant article aimed at keeping the job part time for the next three years.
Rockingham County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Al Brackett was hired as an interim chief in December to replace Sgt. Pat Caggiano, who retired and had served as interim chief since February 2013 when Consentino was fired after 35 years on the job.
Brackett said he had no interest in taking over the chief’s job if it was full time, but he may consider the part-time position depending on the pay and benefits offered. He’s taken a leave from the sheriff’s department until the chief’s job is filled, he said.
The final annual salary and benefits are still being worked out, but the town would likely offer something around $60,000, Innes said.
Selectmen also need to decide whether the position will require 25 hours or 32 hours a week; it was a 25-hour-a-week job under Consentino.
Brackett, who’s working 32 hours, said he feels the job requires “32 hours and then some.”
“A chief’s job, whether full time or part time, is a lot of responsibility. You don’t just go home after 32 hours and don’t answer the phone. If you have a critical incident that happens, the chief has to respond,” he said.
Since taking over as an interim chief, Brackett said he’s made some recommendations on command structure as he was asked to do, but otherwise has made no major departmental changes.
Innes said he expects the search for a new part-time chief will take about 10 weeks. The New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs will pare down the list of candidates to three to six. They will be interviewed by the association’s professional board and a board composed of citizens. Selectmen will then review the candidates based on recommendations from both boards.