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November 20. 2013 10:39PM

Gilford police chief says relationship was no reason to dismiss him

GILFORD — Under investigation for an alleged affair with a fellow officer, Gilford Police Chief Kevin Keenan resigned Wednesday night.

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.

Harris was put on paid leave in mid-September, said Lt. James Leach, the department's acting chief. On Wednesday, Town Administrator Scott Dunn said Harris is at work.

"I never said that she was not working, but I can confirm to you that she is working now," Dunn said prior to Wednesday night's meeting.

At the beginning of the regular selectmen's meeting, Keenan, dressed in suit and tie, stood and addressed a large crowd, many of whom applauded loudly when the former chief was done speaking.

"It is with tremendous regret that I tender my resignation," Keenan said in a statement that he read to selectmen.

"Several years ago, I struck up a relationship with another officer. That was wrong."

Keenan said he made selectmen aware of the relationship. He said Selectman Gus Benevides claimed to be supportive of him. He understood that there would be an investigation from an independent group that the town often uses as a third-party consultant.

"I understood there would be a formal investigation," he said, claiming it turned into "a hostile interrogation," during which Keenan claimed Selectman Kevin Hayes called his marriage counselor.

He said if the town accused him of adultery, "if charged, I'd defend it."

"I did have a relationship," he said, not naming Harris. "...the selectmen put me in a no-win situation."

He said the town informed him late Wednesday afternoon that he was going to be "terminated for just cause" if he did not resign from his $83,500-a-year position.

Keenan said there are "at least three officers" in the police department who "would benefit" should he not return as chief, saying acting chief Leach was one. The three officers have been fighting his possible return, he said.

Keenan said he and his wife would move on from the incident.

"I'm not telling any person in the town of Gilford, New Hampshire, how to feel about my relationship," he said. "But I have a problem with anyone who thinks it should have been the cause of my dismissal."

dseufert@newstote.com


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