The Board of Selectman had what Chair Dan Kolenda described as a “tough but good problem to have” last night. They cast their votes for one of the three “very qualified candidates” for Southborough Police Chief.
In a 2-1 vote, Captain Kenneth Paulhus of Woonsocket got the nod. He has accepted the position.
Kolenda and Selectman Bill Boland both cited Paulhus’ high rank and length of experience in a senior position as making him the strongest candidate.
Kolenda and Boland acknowledged the vocal support for Lt. Sean James and the benefit of internal promotion. Both commended James for his service and expressed the belief that he will make a good chief some day.
James, a lieutenant for 2 years, had the shortest experience at that command level. (Boland slipped in calling James “Sargeant” several times. He repeatedly apologized and pointed to the many years he had known James as Sargeant.)
The decision was contentious. Selectman John Rooney argued passionately against the choice. He gave a 20 minute explanation of his research, thought process, and concerns.
Rooney dismissed consideration of Lt. Richard Bates, who he believed had no real interest in the town. He then detailed his reasons for believing Paulhus was a poor choice and James the right one.
Boland responded that he chose not to focus on the negatives of the candidates. Earlier he had stated that none of the candidates answered all the questions the way he would have liked, but he didn’t expect that. He said that Paulhus had a “little more of what I think could help the town at this point.”
Kolenda described Paulhus as “personable, professional, calm, curteous, confident, decisive, impressive and qualified.” He objected to Rooney’s characterization of Paulhus as “militaristic”.
Kolenda reminded Rooney in the “only 2 years” since James was sergeant, James said that he hadn’t received the mentorship he should have. Earlier, Kolenda pointed to Paulhus mentorship by his chief (who accompanied him to the interview) as one of his great strengths.
Rooney countered that James had replaced that mentorship with extensive training. In the end, he was outvoted.
According to Town Administrator, Mark Purple, Paulhus spoke with selectmen last night and accepted the position. Purple will meet with Paulhus next week to discuss his contract.
If you were a charter customer hoping to watch the decision live, you may have been frustrated last night. Reportedly, the service was down. But Southborough Cable has posted the rebroadcast. To see the discussion, click here.
If you want to get a better look at our presumably future chief, you can click here to see his interview on Monday night (in the last hour of that broadcast).