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Walsh Tells Selectmen: Don’t “Muddy the Waters”

Selectmen Chairman Michael Walsh took umbrage on February 25 at his two colleagues' desire to have the Board

of Selectmen provide comments to the Police Chief Search Committee about the criteria selectmen believe should be looked for when search for Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin's replacement. Walsh is the selectmen's representative on that committee, which – as of February 25 – had yet to set an initial meeting date.

"Let the committee be the committee," Walsh said, later adding, "I don't think we need to muddy the waters." Walsh said he reviewed the town by-law that stipulates who sits on the search committee and noted it specifies six criteria as well as saying the search committee should select and recommend three-to five finalists from which selectmen should pick a new chief. "I'm not trying to interfere," Selectman William Buckley said, but merely offer – through Walsh – suggestions for what selectmen desire in a new chief. The search committee would be free to disregard those suggestions, he said.

As Buckley explained it, without the selectmen giving their board's input up front, then when the search committee members ask Walsh how Selectmen feel about a topic of discussion, Walsh would have to come back and ask his

colleagues.

Further, Buckley noted, the by-law creating the search

committee process was written in 1998 and many topics, such as use of social media, have arisen since then and the by-law's wording "doesn't necessarily cover looking for a police chief in 2019."

When Walsh again said the by-law's wording describes what the search committee needs to do, Selectman William Kingkade responded, "There are other things that can be included." Kingkade said he agreed with Buckley that giving selectmen's suggestions for Walsh to bring to the search committee made sense. Walsh suggested Kingkade and Buckley relay their ideas to Town Administrator Richard Villani, who would then convey them to Walsh. The chairman noted he can always return from the search committee meetings and discuss its progress with Buckley and Kingkade in closed-door, executive sessions. Buckley responded that the discussions need to be held in public.

Villani said all 12 members of the search committee have been contacted and have accepted their position on it. "Everyone's on board," he said.

The Police Chief Search Committee will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. on March 12 at Town Hall, according to Villani.




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