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October 28. 2013 8:43PM

New era to begin for Lyndeborough, town police

LYNDEBOROUGH — There have been rough seas for the town’s police department over the years, but with a familiar face taking the helm next week, officials are hoping for some smooth sailing.

On Wednesday night, two of the three members of the Board of Selectmen, Kevin Boette and Arnold Byam, voted to offer Lt. Rance Deware the position of police chief after a lengthy hiring process. Deware has served as the department’s officer-in-charge since June 2012.

“It’s not often you get to test-drive something for this long before buying it,” said Byam. “He’s been doing the job for 18 months or more.”

Due to a communication error, Selectman Fred Douglas missed the vote. Douglas didn’t arrive at the meeting until 6:15 p.m., believing it was scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Following the meeting, all three selectmen went into nonpublic session to determine some of the details of Deware’s appointment, including salary.

Deware, who has served as the department’s officer-in-charge for the past 16 months, will be the first chief the town has had since Chief James Basinas was ousted by residents during a special town meeting. Basinas had been placed on paid administrative leave early in 2007, but challenged the legality of the Board of Selectmen’s later decision to terminate him.

Basinas was temporarily reinstated by the court following a brief hearing. As the case continued through the courts, the townspeople, led by Boette, decided it was time to end the legal battle by holding a special town meeting to do away with the position of police chief, thereby ending the town’s relationship with Basinas.

Since 2007, the town has had a number of administrators and officers-in-charge running the department. However, the officer-in-charge position, which allowed the Board of Selectmen a stronger hand in the day-to-day operations of the department than the position of police chief would allow, began to show flaws. The department’s first officer-in-charge, Thomas Burke, and the Board of Selectmen started to clash, ultimately leading to Burke’s resignation. In March, the voters decided to bring back the position of police chief in order to create some separation of powers between the department and the Board of Selectmen.

Deware, who retired from the Milford Police Department after 17 years, will work only 32 hours per week, allowing him to collect his pension and the salary from the town. The limited hours will require some careful time management, he said, but shouldn’t be a problem.

“If I have to come in from home to deal with an emergency, I’ll have to adjust my hours elsewhere,” he said.

Deware has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in business education, as well as 25 years in law enforcement. After serving as officer-in-charge for 16 months, he believes the transition to chief will be an easy one.

“My job’s not really changing,” said Deware. “I’ll continue to work with the Board of Selectmen and the town administrator to serve the citizens of Lyndeborough.”

Boette, though opposed to reinstating the position of police chief, said the board followed the will of the voters and said Deware is well qualified for the job. The primary challenge Deware will face is recruiting officers to fill out the department’s roster, but Boette said that if the Deware continues to bring stability to the force, qualified applicants will come.

“We haven’t had a real stable police department in a long time,” he said.

Deware will be sworn in during a ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.


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