Hooksett Police Commission walks away
"It was totally unexpected," said At-Large Town Councilor Leslie Boswak who, like other members of the council, received an email from Town Administrator Dean Shankle that Chairwoman Joanne McHugh and Commissioners Kenneth Scherer and Clark Karolian had resigned. The commission was working to implement a final round of recommendations developed from a police department audit conducted by the Public Safety Strategies Group.
"I would definitely be interested in hearing what they have to say," he added.
Shankle said the Police Commission is charged with overseeing the department through Jan 9, 2014.
"I will have to check with the town attorney to see if there is any possible plan B," he said, adding it would be up to the Town Council to appoint three new commissioners for the remainder of the term.
Any spending beyond that must be approved by the Police Commission, which provides administrative oversight for the police department. And as Shankle pointed out, $2,000 isn't enough to fully equip a new officer if Bartlett needed to add someone to the current department.
Over the past year, the Hooksett Police Commission had come under fire for what some residents and officials saw as a tendency to micro-manage the town police force. Commissioners were also criticized for taking more than a year to hire a permanent replacement for former Chief Stephen Agrafiotis, who officially resigned in February 2012, after years of controversy marked by paid administrative leaves, a no-confidence vote from some of the department's officers and a three-day suspension over a budget issue that was ultimately overturned by a Merrimack County Superior Court judge.
Although there were complaints about the Police Commission, the three commissioners also had the support of some residents and town officials.
Lizotte said the commissioners showed they had the strength not to become prey to internal pressures.
Still, Lizotte said government moves on and he is looking ahead to working with fellow councilors on the next phase of the commission. He said he had complete confidence in any decisions from Shankle, who hopes to recruit three new commissioners as quickly as possible
"Whatever happens, the police department will continue to function," she said. "It will be totally seamless."
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