The next police chief should be the most qualified candidate, period. Local knowledge and local ties should factor zero into this hiring decision. Promoting from within the department is fine, but with 57 people applying for the job, I'd bet some highly qualified out-of-town candidates were on that list.
The recent rash of retirements have significantly affected the leadership of the New Milford Police Department. Seven (7) officers left the force, including the chief and three in the administrative ranks. Without going into the details as to "why" (i.e. retirement benefits will be reduced with the new union contract), the retirements now bring the politicos into the arena of police power. And that's where the trouble can begin.
According to the Town Charter, the Mayor appoints (with TC approval) a chief for a term "not to exceed four years." They can then reappoint the chief for successive terms. Then it's the Chief that can pick the rest of his leadership team.
Some politicos in town are already whispering about those losing connections to the top brass of the NMPD. Here's why Roscoe and Boss Hogg comparisons have started popping up:
- A key member of the retiring top brass has a "long term relationship" with a family member of a leading local businessman/politico
- This local businessman/politico is often seen with "R" town council members
- One of these "R" town council members is the only TC member to ask for a committee to search for the next police chief. Even though the Mayor had already started a search process (using an outside consultant), this TC member remained obstinate about wanting a committee
Why would this TC member be so insistent about a committee - unless he and his politico pal didn't want an outside consultant to bring in an outsider? Is all of this a coincidence? I'll let you decide - place a comment below.Can you guess who the TC member is? Put your guess in a comment (if you do your homework, you can find the answer in less time than it takes a politico to drive home from Milano's).
With all of the current co-mingling of business, political, and personal lives, it's almost like The Dukes of Hazzard. In fact, there is a replica of the General Lee in New Milford - it even has the confederate flag painted on the roof. But I've never seen Bo or Luke Duke behind the wheel. Break out the moonshine, boys!
To ensure "NM politics as usual" don't become part of the future police department leadership, tell the Mayor and TC members that the new chief should not be connected to anyone in New Milford. Not connected to a politico, a builder, a blogger, Grandma or Uncle Jesse. If a candidate is chosen who has local ties, ask the tough question: WHY is this the BEST person for the job? If the politicos can't tell you, then you know they've picked Roscoe P. Coltrane.
If you don't think hiring a new chief is significant, then you've never been pulled over for a traffic ticket, arrested, or helped from a dangerous situation by a police officer. In other words, the powers of the police are very significant. These powers shouldn't be granted to a friend or relative of the local cabal.