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Handling of police chief probe questioned

Union Leader Correspondent

November 21. 2013 8:58PM

GILFORD — A day after former police Chief Kevin Keenan resigned his position over an affair with one of his officers, questions were being asked about the town’s handling of the investigation.

During his resignation speech at the regular selectmen’s meeting Wednesday night, Keenan said he had informed the town of his affair and was told the matter would be handled internally, only to encounter a “hostile interrogation” by the town and a third-party investigations group made up of former police officers.

Keenan said Selectman Gus Benevides told him he would “be in my corner,” only to find differently when the investigation was conducted. Keenan claimed that during the investigation, Selectman Kevin Hayes called the former’s chief’s marriage counselor seeking information.

“I think the selectmen got a black eye over this one,” said resident Kevin Leandro. “(Keenan) was railroaded by the selectmen and the town administrator.”

Keenan had been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 28, when an investigation began into an alleged relationship with Student Resource Officer Holly Harris. He had been with the department for nearly 20 years; he was appointed chief in October 2011. His salary was $83,500.

Harris was put on paid leave in mid-September, acting police Chief James Leach has said.

On Wednesday, Town Administrator Scott Dunn said she is at work.

On Thursday, Dunn said Keenan’s approximately 10-minute-long resignation was “full of inaccuracies.”

“In our investigation, our objective was to be as professional as possible, by the boards as much as possible, and we tried to act with the best interests of the taxpayers in mind,” Dunn said.

A third-party company, MRI, was hired by the town attorney to conduct the investigation of the affair between Keenan and Harris, Dunn said, and the investigation was conducted with a high level of professionalism, he said.

Keenan had plenty of opportunity to appeal the decision by the town to terminate him with “just cause” had he not resigned Wednesday night, Dunn said.

Still, Leandro thinks the former chief was not told the complete truth when selectmen allegedly told him the investigation would be handled internally.

“When you figure salaries and all, I figure that’s about $80,000 the town has lost on the whole thing, and that’s not on the budget anywhere,” he said.

Resident Pamela Horvath said she still has questions about whether Keenen should have been forced to leave his job.

“They haven’t told us, did any of this activity really interfere with his work?” she asked. “If not, it’s a private issue.”

During his resignation, Keenan said he and his wife would “move on” from the incident.

Public Safety Politics Gilford

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