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Candia board’s non-vote on new officer irks police chief

CANDIA — Police Chief Michael McGillen said he was embarrassed by the Board of Selectmen’s decision on Monday night to put off a vote on a new police officer.

After selectmen decided not to vote on McGillen’s candidate for the position — Greenfield Police Department part-time officer Thomas Terelli — McGillen said that not only is the town less safe but its credibility might have been hurt as well.

“I try to work with the board and the citizens. I am pretty flexible and try to get along, but I feel like, as a whole, the board wasn’t supportive. I have never had this happen before. I was very embarrassed,” McGillen said.

When discussion of the possible hire came up on Monday night, board members Amanda Soares and Frederick Kelley said they didn’t feel right voting because fellow board member David Depuy was not in attendance. McGillen said he was not told until shortly before the meeting that Depuy would not be in attendance and that the board wanted to schedule a meet-and-greet with Terelli before voting. McGillen said Terelli was at the meeting with the understanding that the board would vote on his candidacy that evening.

“The situation was very awkward,” McGillen said.

The Candia Police Department is budgeted for seven officers, including the chief but currently has only five active officers on duty. Along with the vacant position, which McGillen said he has been trying to fill since February, another officer is out with an injury.

“I thought we would have hired a new officer two months ago,” McGillen said.

Even though short a member, the board had a quorum and could have voted on the new position, and McGillen said that since the department is budgeted for seven officers, no new money would be required to make the hire.

“I do think this has made the town less safe. Every day, every week that passes by we could have someone out there, and the number one deterrent to crime is when criminals see a police presence. When they case an area and neighborhood and don’t see police, they feel emboldened. That is my biggest fear, that the lack of police presence, that lack of deterrent, will lead to more crime.”

McGillen said he is also worried that the situation has damaged the reputation of the town and police department.

“I am worried this could damage our credibility when it comes to hiring officers, and we can’t compete money-wise with the bigger departments,” McGillen said, who added that the department has lost two officers to the higher-paying Bedford Police Department in the last three years.

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