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Manchester police chief set to retire

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 11. 2015 11:53PM

Manchester Police Chief David Mara. (UNION LEADER FILE)

David Mara, who has run the Manchester Police Department for almost seven years, announced to the rank and file on Monday that he will be leaving the job at the end of next month, the police chief confirmed.

“Yeah, I’m going to be leaving by June 30,” Mara told a reporter late Monday afternoon. But the police chief said he was busy with several matters and would say little else than to give a brief rundown of his career.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said he’s spoken to Mara about his departure and expects a formal letter from him.

“I think he’s done a great job for the city of Manchester. We worked very hard to make sure the citizens of our city are safe,” Gatsas said.

Gatsas said he doesn’t know the reasons for Mara’s departure, but the mayor said Mara wants to spend time with his family. Gatsas also believes that veteran officers have a strong incentive to consider retirement and avoid any potential reduction of retirement benefits.

Mara will also be eligible for a one-time $13,000 retirement incentive from the city if he retires before July 1.

Mara started with the Manchester Police Department in September 1986 as a patrolman. He attended law school at nights and earned his law degree in 1994.

He was a police captain in 2008, when he was the surprise choice of then Mayor Frank Guinta to become police chief. He initially oversaw a police crackdown on crime that was a response to the killing of Officer Michael Briggs.

But that was called into question in 2010, when four police officers beat up a patron at the Strange Brew. The city paid Christopher Micklovic $200,000, and the Attorney General said it was not the department’s finest hour.

Mara eventually played tough with errant cops. For example, he fired Sgt. Stephen Coco after news surfaced that Coco was involved in a hit-and-run that harmed two high school students.

He trumpeted community policing. He increased the number of minorities and women on the force. And he urged drug treatment to combat the city’s heroin epidemic, saying the city can’t arrest its way out of the epidemic.

Gatsas said he believes he will be able to fill the post before Mara’s departure. He said he will look to see if any internal candidates are interested in the chief's job before engaging in a nationwide search.

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