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Plaistow begins search for new police chief

PLAISTOW — The town is beginning the process of hiring a new police chief.

The new chief will replace Stephen Savage, who died after a three-year battle with kidney cancer on July 11.

Kathleen Jones, who was the deputy chief under Savage, is serving as the department’s interim chief.

The town began accepting applications for the position on Tuesday and will start reviewing the applications and resumes on Sept. 19.

The review of the applications begins on Sept. 22 with initial interviews scheduled for mid-October and a final round of interviews scheduled for November, according to Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald.

The projected start date for the new police chief is Dec. 1.

“I have created a job posting and challenge statement and outlined a process,” Fitzgerald recently told the Board of Selectmen, which will ultimately have the final say on the hire. “At this point, we can advertise the position for 30 days, and I anticipate that we will probably receive a significant response.”

Those in the Plaistow Police Department, such as Jones, will be considered for the position.

“Certainly, we have an in-house candidate that we all think very highly of,” said Fitzgerald. “We want to encourage everyone to take a look at the position. It is an important job.”

There will be a committee of volunteers including citizens and selectmen who will review the applications and make recommendations for further interviews to selectmen. Fitzgerald said there will be no outside firm used or town money spent on the search process.

After the selectmen interview the slate of recommended candidates, Fitzgerald said he expects the board will hold public interviews for about three finalists before making a final decision.The minimum educational and experience requirements posted for the position include a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, business administration or a related field, along with 10 years of law enforcement experience, with some of that in a supervisory position. The candidates must also have or be able to obtain certification as a full-time New Hampshire police officer.

“I want to highlight how difficult it will be to replace someone like Chief Savage,” said Fitzgerald. “In fact, I suggest that we won’t ever replace someone of his stature, but this is certainly a huge responsibility for us.”

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