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September 30, 2010
Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
September 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Community Hall Annex

Present:  Sheila H. Dibb, Chairman – Joseph R. Becker, Vice-Chairman – Leroy C. Clark, Cherilyn A. Bulger and Michael S. Pantos, Clerk

Meeting opened at 5:12 pm
The Board of Selectmen will be interviewing police chief candidates at 6 pm, 7pm and
8 pm.

Old Business:
Mr. Becker moved to place the following article on the special town meeting warrant:  “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or appropriate from Available Funds (Free Cash), a sum of money to add to the Police Chief Wage Account (210-5110); or take any action in relation thereto.”  Mr. Pantos seconded.  Vote unanimous.

The Board discussed the questions that will be asked of each candidate.  Mr. Becker stated that he had specific questions that he would like to ask specific candidates and asked the Chairman if she would entertain that.  Chairman Dibb gave her approval.  The Board agreed to take questions from the public in written form.  The final decision will not be made tonight.  There will be more discussion at the Selectmen’s meeting on October 4th and another meeting will be posted for Thursday, October 7, 2010 for follow-up.  Ms. Bulger moved to recess at 5:25 pm and open again at 6 pm.  Mr. Pantos seconded.  Vote unanimous.

6 pm – John Agnew
Mrs. Dibb thanked him for coming and Mr. Agnew thanked the Board for the opportunity as well.  Introductions.  Life-long Spencer resident, 34 years in police work, graduated from Worcester Police Academy, Associates in Criminal Justice from Mount Wachusett Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria College.  Supervisor last 13 years and served as Acting Chief in 1997-98 as well as presently when the Chief is away.  Conducts internal investigations and handles citizen complaints, strong in community policing.  He has viewed the police contract and feels the budget is workable.  As the most important police function he feels the Chief should be available to serve the people and should treat people as you would want to be treated.  Definition of community policing is a partnership between the police department and the community because you can learn a lot from the people.  Feels he is an effective and thorough leader, takes no sides and promotions should not be rushed (evaluate first).  Will personally engage himself by meeting with each officer individually (more honest when alone), meet with department heads and visit businesses.  Is a people person and likes to solve problems through good communication.  Creative initiatives:  DARE Officer, Police Cadet Explorer Program and was the first certified crime prevention officer.  Budget constraints prohibit the creation of new programs, but is involved with a forensics class in Spencer and is in more of a supervisory role at this time.  Would like to see a line item for cruisers and have some wiggle room for “extras”.  Is familiar with and has secured federal grant funding, officer safety is top concern.  Wants officers to community oriented, not embarrass themselves or the department, wants them well trained, wants them attending training classes rather than taking on line classes as it is a great way to make contacts with other police departments. His officers know where he stands upfront and is not afraid to be challenged.   Does not have experience in officer evaluation process.  Believes in counseling unacceptable behavior.  Foresees no problem working closely with fire and dispatch – was amazed at the camaraderie during the ice storm – feels shared services and regionalization are a thing of the near future due to budget constraints.  Will work closely with other town departments as well as the schools.  Never been subject to discipline, warnings, suspension or termination at a job.  Never been asked to resign from a job or been moved off of a particular work assignment.  His only internal departmental investigation experience has been the ones he was investigating.  Stated nothing negative will show in a state police background check.  Has very strong work ethic, will use vacation time, but doesn’t use sick time and will always be there when needed.  If confronted with a police vs. family/friend, he has no problem passing off to another officer. Is not easily irritated, discouraged or anxious.  Has ridden around town, amazed at the development, found townspeople very friendly.  
Believes people lawful to bear arms certainly have that right.  Will be visible in community, excited about working in Rutland.  He applied here because when he worked a detail, he really liked it – pretty town, departments work together and feels he has more to offer than just remaining a sergeant in Spencer.  Has experience in dealing with unionized departments.  Mr. Becker stated that the Board is very supportive of the police department, but cannot promise everything.  Feels good communication usually solves most officer problems, not a large turnover in department.  Would be very interested in crime prevention programs here, surveys for homeowners, etc.  He will commute (less than 12 miles one way).  For officer safety he feels, shifts should have at least one full-time officer on with part-timers.  He questioned the Board of the condition of the fleet to which Mrs. Dibb responded.  Is fully aware that he will be working with a contract.  Mr. Pantos moved to recess from 6:45 – 7 pm.  Mr. Becker seconded.  Vote unanimous.

7 pm – Richard Bates
Introductions around the table.  Thanked the Board for the interview.  Father of three, lives in Holden, 26-year veteran of Worcester Police Department within various departments earning the rank of lieutenant.  Many specialized training classes.  Juris doctorate from New England School of Law and Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria.  Served on several boards in Holden, as well as many youth sports in various capacities.  Would like to know what is expected of him as chief and how the Board wants community policing applied.  Feels community service/customer service is of utmost importance.  Mr. Bates said community service to him means engagement, partnerships in community and the chief should be visible and at the forefront.  Priorities are policy and procedure, training, good supervision with a strong administrator.  Strengths are administration and good training skills.  Within the first 30 days, he would meet with all department heads, employees, business people, townspeople, clergy and school personnel/students.  Rotating capital purchases is important budget issue.  Will definitely have strong community involvement.  Creative initiatives:  Accreditation process, risk management expert/teaching risk management, police clergy academy.  Is comfortable and familiar with a line item budget.  Would like to reduce capital costs, would look for grant money to increase personnel and believes the chief needs to be out patrolling with officers.  High moral compass, ethics, loyalty, & honesty are number one in recruitment, hiring and advancement.  Feels a highly disciplined police department is a highly trained police department and he is capable of administering the training, must be a team member and he would lead by example. Does not have experience completing employee evaluations, but is willing to learn.  If there is negative public perception, he would find out what the perceptions are and work with the officer to correct.  Feels very strongly about police, fire and EMTs working closely – must work as a team.  Has worked with personnel department, HR, law department and all department heads and feels all must work harmoniously with one another.  Never been subject to discipline at a job, asked to resign from a job or been moved off of a work assignment.  Has been involved in a few internal departmental investigations for using excessive force in arrests – charges were unfounded and/or exonerated.  State police background check will be of no cause for concern.  As far as his management style, he believes in regular staff meetings, the democratic process and will be a leader by example.  Very strong work ethic with lots of energy.  Regarding ethical decisions, you have to do what’s right for all involved.  Doesn’t feel he gets irritated, stays even keel and thinks things through before acting.  Knows Rutland pretty well and almost moved here before purchasing in Holden.  Great police department, lots of friends, great school district and is a fine place to live.  Question on citizen’s right to bear arms: police chief should follow statute, if individual is stable and suitable, then they have a right to have a firearms license.  Is hoping to commute as he lives in Holden.  Regarding crime prevention:  believes in foot patrols, bike patrols and community policing.  Unions: we’ll need to build a relationship with the union to get to the common good for all.  Does not feel the transition from a large department to a small one is a problem.  Applied here as a way to reach the top of the profession and will end his career here.  Will not practice law while chief.  He is aware that he will have a contract and would like to see the public safety complex in Holden finished before he leaves.  Mr. Bates thanked the Board for the opportunity.  Mr. Pantos moved to recess for five minutes and return at 8 pm.  Mr. Becker seconded.  Vote unanimous.

8 pm – Donald Haapakoski
Introductions.  35 years of police work (Worcester, Templeton, Assumption College, Holland as Chief, Ayer as Chief, currently Chief in Oakham for past 8.5 years). Vast experience in arbitration, grand juries, appellate court reviews, labor issues, superior court, etc.  He would like to know: if the Board sees the Town growing in the next 5 years; any industrial centers coming in and where does the Board see the police department presently.  Is familiar with Rutland’s police department, knows the budget and is acquainted with police personnel.  Working with community is most important police function.  Community policing is what small town departments have done for years, it’s a way of doing business.  If there have been multiple calls to one particular home over a period of time, he would get to the root of the problem and help them get the services they need.  Priority issues would be accreditation which would hold the department to professional standards.  When hired he would sit with the sergeant for any
immediate needs and then sit individually with each officer, approach the Lions Club, speak at the RBA, meet the school personnel and meet with chiefs of Fire and DPW.  He would like to hold office hours one night a week.  He would always be accessible to the public and as chief, would run patrols during the day. He expanded the Ayer department through grants, he built the Holland department from scratch (initiating policy/procedures, updating equipment, etc.), moved Oakham from a part-time department to a full-time department.  Creatively, he expanded patrol coverage in Oakham and implemented the senior citizen barbecue.  Regarding capital needs, he would like to ascertain the cruiser status and replace as needed by leasing over a period of 2-3 years, he would like to increase staffing as well as going out on calls himself and have two officers on duty at all times (at least one being full-time).  Feels the part-timers have to get the proper training and be able to pull their weight.  Characteristics he looks for in recruitment, hiring and advancement are honesty, integrity and loyalty and  unafraid of change.  On handling discipline and positive morale, he would find and use everyone’s strengths.  Has experience in employee evaluations.  Negative perception by the public would be handled one on one, officers would be taught better communication skills and would rely on the sergeants to follow procedure; believes in progressive discipline.  Regarding regionalization and shared services, he feels the fire, dispatch and police should and would work well together.  There may be problems with jurisdiction and contract differences, but it could be worked out.  He was subject to an internal departmental investigation for excessive use of force on a prisoner and found not responsible.  No concerns with Board conducting a state police background check.  Believes in participatory management style (police/public interaction).  Describes himself as a workaholic.  Never had an ethical dilemma or conflict at work.  When things don’t happen as quickly as they should, he sometimes feels discouraged/irritated.  Is familiar with Rutland’s population, its schools, RHH plan and a combination of business/residential areas.  Believes if record is clean and properly licensed, people have the right to bear arms.  Crime prevention would be handled with visibility, enforcing traffic laws, instituting identity theft with businesses, getting officers out of their cars more and interact with folks and getting to know the town’s youth.  No problem relocating, but housing market would be a force behind that and he is only seven minutes away.  When questioned on short time in each prior position he responded that he did not agree with the politics in Ayer, and in Holland money was the factor.  He would review collective bargaining agreement, conduct written exams and oral interviews in considering promotions.  He feels Rutland is a positive place due to the volunteerism of July 4th festivities, Chowder Challenge and the tight knit community.  He would involve himself in town through the Lions Club, RBA and work with schools.  His department would describe him as firm but fair and sad to see him go.  In order to retain the officers we have, he would make sure they keep up to date on training and advancement and make them want to be here.  He thanked the Board for the opportunity.

The Board shared some thoughts about the candidates at conclusion of the third interview. Mr. Redfield announced that the RBA will be hosting state representatives at the Tavern on Tuesday, October 5th at 8 pm and invited the Board.

Mr. Clark moved to adjourn.  Mr. Becker seconded.  Vote unanimous.  Meeting adjourned at
9:05 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy M. Macaruso, Secretary
Board of Selectmen

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