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June 18. 2014 9:56PM

Chief's son set to join Manchester police force

MANCHESTER — The son of Police Chief David Mara is set to join the Manchester Police Department next month.

Matthew Mara is among the 14 new police officers that are to be sworn in a special ceremony on July 7 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester.

Chief Mara on Wednesday declined to comment on the hiring of his son.

Mara is currently being considered for the top cop position in Somerville, Mass. He is among four finalists for the position and is to participate in a public interview next Wednesday.

Matthew Mara, who is believed to be in his early 20s, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Matthew Mara recently joined the Hampton Police Department as a part-time officer.

In response to a call from a reporter seeking Matthew Mara, a dispatcher there initially said she was unfamiliar with the name. She later said “he just started” and was unavailable. “He must be brand new,” she said. “He’s part-time and doesn’t have a regular schedule just yet. He was probably on a ride along.”

To become a certified police officer in Manchester, applicants must be “presently employed as a full-time Certified Police Officer or have been employed as a full-time Certified Police Officer within the last 12 months,” according to a job posting with the city’s Human Resources Department.

Certified officers have to undergo three months of training, a shorter and less rigorous testing period than is required for new recruits.

The last five certified officers hired by the Manchester Police Department, who were sworn in April 7, had at least one year’s experience with other police departments; one had seven years’ experience.

It’s not unprecedented in Manchester for new employees to join close relatives in leadership positions in city departments. In 1996, Peter C. Favreau joined the MPD as an officer when his father, Peter R. Favreau was chief. The practice is especially common in the fire department.

“I thought you had to be born into the fire department,” said Ray Wieczorek, who was the mayor of Manchester from 1990 to 1999.

Wieczorek added that he didn’t think family ties between employees posed a problem as long as the new hires were qualified. “It would be of great concern, if they were not qualified,” he said, “But if you pass all the tests — and they do take some pretty rigorous tests to graduate from the police academy — and you are physically fit and feel you can do the job ... you shouldn’t be penalized because you’re related.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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