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Sunday, August 26, 2012

UPDATED: Will we get a new police chief soon?

Town Council schedules Executive Session on Monday
By Will Collette

Please click HERE to read about the Town Council's choice for the new Charlestown Police Chief.

UPDATE: On Monday, August 27 at 5:30, the Charlestown Town Council will meet in Executive Session. The only item on the agenda is "Discussion of Finalist Candidates and Potential Selection of Police Chief." 

After that, they may take a vote to hire a new town chief.

Angela Algier reports in the Westerly Sun that the search committee to find a replacement for retired Charlestown Police Chief Jack Shippee has now focused on five candidates.

Two are in-house, CPD’s two top officers, Acting Chief Michael Paliotta and Lt. Patrick McMahon, who also serves as chief of the Charlestown Ambulance and Rescue Service.

The three outside candidates are South Kingstown Police Capt. Jeffrey Allen, veteran State Trooper Richard Altimari and Middletown’s deputy chief Maj. Terry W. Hazel.

My sources say that both of our in-house candidates come with their own constituencies within the force and that a choice of one over the other could cause some bad feelings among the rival’s supporters. This has happened before, as in the case where Jack Shippee and Patrick McMahon competed for the Chief’s job last time.

According to the Sun article, when asked to comment, Town Council President Tom Gentz e-mailed to say “I cannot identify any of the candidates due to confidentiality concerns, but the process is rock solid. The good news is that the process is moving along according to plan.”

However, Algier wrote, “When the process began in May, Gentz said he expected the process to take between six weeks and two months.”

We’re now at the three month mark. While I am not advocating the search team do their work in haste – filling the Police Chief position is something you really don’t want to mess up – Gentz once again made a promise he could not keep. His claim that “the process is moving along according to plan” is belied by the calendar. Can he, for once, admit to a mistake?

The search committee will need to further whittle down the list. Plus the candidates will have to be thoroughly vetted, although that may be a pretty simple process given that all five are long-serving and seasoned officers serving with local area police forces.

The final pick to emerge will have to be approved by the Town Council which only has 74 days left in its term.