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Epsom selectmen to use assessment to help with police staffing

Union Leader Correspondent

August 17. 2017 12:50AM

EPSOM — The town’s Board of Selectmen will consider an assessment of the town’s police department sometime next week, with the goal of seeking solutions to its staffing issues.

The selectmen have been working with Alan Gould, president and chief executive officer of Municipal Resources, Inc. out of Meredith, to set up the assessment.

The goal of the assessment would be to help find solutions to the staffing issues that the department has, such as attracting qualified recruits. Fully staffed, the department has six officers. Right now, there are five.

“The reason we asked them to come in, we’ve had trouble for years and years keeping a full staff of police officers, retaining officers,” said Selectman Chairman Don Harty.

Harty and the other selectmen said they support the work that the town’s police chief and the rest of the officers are doing. Over the last few months, they’ve been looking into potentially changing the hiring process and having part-time officers to address the issue.

But the hope is the outside perspective might come up with an idea they haven’t yet thought of.

Epsom Police Chief Wayne Preve said in March the last three hires for the department did not complete the police academy program. Though they were able to handle the written and physical challenges, the new hires realized the career path wasn’t for them.

“It’s not for everyone,” he said.

Preve met with Epsom selectmen during that time to discuss the issue, one he said many police departments in the state are facing.

“We’re all in the same boat,” he said.

There have been times in recent years, Preve said, where the department has gone through the entire interview process and still not come up with someone to send to the academy.

On Tuesday, Preve said that he was fine with having Gould come do an assessment of the department.

“I have no problem with this gentleman to come into the police department,” he said.

His only concern is whether or not there will be support from the town for any of the recommendations that are made.

“Is the board going to stand by it and make that happen?” Preve said. “If not, we’re spending a lot of money for nothing.”

Preve also said that he would not be in favor of changing up any scheduling for his officers, as the system in place is what serves them best.

Though there are instances where they have to work overtime, Preve said the officers are good at working the hours they need to.

Selectman Hugh Curley will meet with Preve to discuss the proposed scope of the study and if anything else should be included. This will then be sent back to MRI and a final contract will be decided on sometime in the next week or so.

Right now, the expected cost is $9,500 for the study, though this number could change.

Public Safety Local and County Government Epsom

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