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DeBartolomeis to Chair Police Chief Search Committee

Former Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis was chosen as chairman of the Police Chief Search Committee during the 12-member committee's first meeting on March 12. Christopher Fritts volunteered to be the committee's recording secretary. A second vote to name the committee's vice chairman will be held on March 26, after the first vote resulted in a tie between Richard Heller and Edward Bertorelli.

"Thank you for participating and being a member of the committee," Town Administrator Richard Villani said as he opened the meeting. Villani chaired the meeting for organizational purposes until DeBartolomeis was voted in as chairman. Board member Donato "Dan" Niro also put forth his name to be chairman, but DeBartolomeis was picked by the majority of committee members.

DeBartolomeis called the make-up of the search committee – specified by a town by-law – as

"12 outstanding people." The committee's job is

an important one, he said, because, just like the Superintendent of Schools, "The chief sets the tone for the town." Elderly residents want to know that they can walk the streets safely and parents want to know their children are safe in the town's schools, DeBartolomeis said. "I think the people at this table will be able to do a great job," he commented.

Most of the meeting's discussion focused on whether or not to have the search committee's meetings filmed and aired on local cable television access station Milford TV. Niro felt airing every world on television could limit what he termed

"a free exchange of ideas." Also, a word-by-word record of the meetings could involve the committee in any potential legal actions, Niro said.

"These are public meetings," Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin stated. "I think it's very important"

for them to be televised, he said. "We're a public committee," Heller said. "This committee needs to be transparent."

Bertorelli noted that rumors abound and, instead of people saying 'they heard', having televised meetings would mean everyone would know who said what and when. "If it's out there, it's out there," he said. "The public wants true transparency," said Selectmen Chair Michael Walsh. "Our community deserves the right to be able to watch these meetings."

Although Niro wanted the committee to take

a formal vote on allowing Milford TV to record and then televise the meetings, none was taken. DeBartolomeis said the consensus of the committee was to have the meetings televised.

Heller asked whether the committee had a budget, with Villani responding selectmen included a "placeholder" article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant for one. Villani then asked the committee for information on what the budget should be. James Heron said the two previous searches involved costs such as advertising, hiring consultants and travel to candidates' communities.

The board also briefly discussed creating a job description that goes beyond the minimum qualifications listed in the current town by-law. O'Loughlin said being a sergeant, lieutenant or deputy chief in Milford now requires more than what the by-law lists as minimum requirements. The chief said he would bring in several job descriptions for review at the committee's next meeting.

Bertorelli said there was no description of social media in the by-law because it did not exist when it was created. Members pointed out that society and the town have also changed over the past two decades. "Things are a lot different out there than they were 20 years ago," Heron said.


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