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April 08. 2013 7:45PM

As Fremont police chief fights for his job, search for successor begins

FREMONT - The town is organizing a committee to search for a new police chief after Neal Janvrin, the town's long-time chief, was fired last August.

Selectmen recently voted to begin the search while Janvrin continues his legal fight to get the job back.

Denny Wood, a police sergeant in Brentwood, was appointed interim chief shortly after Janvrin was fired and remains in the position.

Selectmen had planned to hold off on hiring a new chief until Janvrin's legal challenge to his firing was resolved. But with a trial set for the end of November in Rockingham County Superior Court, board members decided to move forward now.

"Things could drag on for years and it's not fair to our residents and the person sitting in that seat," said Selectman Greta St. Germain, board chairman.

Janvrin, 66, was fired on Aug. 20 after nearly 23 years as chief. He filed suit in October.

Among other things, selectmen claimed Janvrin was "physically unstable in the field" and had a "confrontational" attitude toward other officers, according to their notice of dismissal.

They also alleged that he failed to observe established procedures and protocols and that his "judgments and decision making are inconsistent and demonstrate memory lapses, lack of comprehension, and unpredictability," the notice said.

In his suit, Janvrin has denied the allegations and claims his firing was discriminatory.

He argues that his decisions weren't inconsistent and that he is unaware of any policy violations. According to the suit, Janvrin's personnel file is "completely devoid of any notation of any problems in these areas or any confirmation of discipline of any sort or kind."

Selectmen support keeping the chief's job a part-time position, but the search committee will explore the pros and cons of making it full time, St. Germain said.

Wood, who has been reappointed as interim chief every three months since taking over the position in September, said he plans to apply for the job whether it's part time or full time.

Wood also said he's willing to remain on as an interim chief for as long as he's needed.

"I'm here for the long haul or here until I'm no longer needed," he said. "The operation of the department is going very well. We're full steam ahead. We've moved forward without a hiccup."

St. Germain said the search committee, which will likely include members from law enforcement and other residents, could begin its work within the next month.


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