LYNDEBOROUGH — After years of struggle and strife, the police department appears to be sailing on smoother waters and two new officers are helping to fill out the department’s roster.
Firings, hirings, special town meetings and lots of lawsuits have plagued the Lyndeborough Police Department and the Board of Selectmen for as long as many folks can remember. Since Police Chief James Basinas was ousted by a vote at a special town meeting to do away with the position of chief in 2007, there have been nearly half a dozen men running the department as interim administrators or officers in charge. Some left on good terms when their jobs were done, while others left unhappy with the town.
The last man standing at the helm of the troubled department was Lt. Rainsford Deware, a law enforcement veteran who served as officer in charge. He is now the department’s first chief since Basinas left town, and he said things are going well.
After being without a chief since December 2007, the townspeople decided to bring back the position at Town Meeting last March. Though the board went through a lengthy hiring process to fill the position, in the end the job was offered to Deware.
The new chief’s biggest challenge coming in was having enough manpower to serve and protect the people of Lyndeborough, and the state police have had to fill in a bit when there are gaps in coverage, Deware said.
Hiring new officers, either full or part time was difficult because nobody wanted to work for a department that was in a constant struggle with the town, but since Deware became chief in October, things have settled down significantly and qualified candidates have come knocking.
Recently, Deware hired Michael Chapdelaine, who has 20 years of experience as a police officer in both civilian and military forces. Chapdelaine will serve as a part-time patrol officer for the town, said Deware.
The chief also now has a second-in-command, with Sgt. Richard Sprankle, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, joining the department last month.
“He is a very qualified person with a lot of skills,” said Deware. Sprankle will work up to 32 hours per week, and will be able to fill in for Deware when the chief is away on vacation or otherwise occupied.
“It’s always good to have a second-in-command,” he said.
With the current hires, Lyndeborough now has seven officers working, though most of them are part time and only work a couple of shifts a week. Still, the extra hands mean the town has better coverage on nights and weekends. And Deware said he’s in the process of hiring another full-time officer.
Getting the staff roster up to where it needs to be has been possible with the support of the full board, said Deware, and officers are getting paid a decent wage for a town the size of Lyndeborough.
“I’ve had good communication with the town administrator and the board,” he said. “Everybody’s talking and communicating and working together as a team to resolve issues.”
And having officers out on the streets, talking with residents, helping out with the small stuff and tackling the big stuff has been good for the town, said Deware.
“Our calls in 2013 were less than half of what they were in 2012,” he said. “My guys are out driving around, stopping to say hi to people, and trying to make strong connections with the community. Everybody’s doing the right thing.”