Should the new police chief be required to live in Southborough?

There’s been much talk on the blog in the past few days about the process of finding a new police chief. Should Interim Chief Jane Moran be made an automatic finalist if she chooses to apply for the position? Should we bother to conduct a search at all when selectmen could simply opt to hire Moran outright?

These were relatively easy questions for the Board of Selectmen to answer (yes and yes). What caused more debate among selectmen was the question of residency. That is, should the chief of police be required to live in Southborough?

At a meeting last month, Selectman Bill Boland said the chief should be a resident and “part of the community where people can see that person every day.”

“If (a candidate) is hemming and hawing about whether they want to move, then frankly, I don’t want them as police chief. If we’re going to make a commitment to them, they need to make a commitment to us,” Boland said.

When Webber was promoted to police chief in 2004, he was required to move to Southborough. Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said at that time she was “adamant that the police chief reside in town.” But the economy has led to a change of heart. “I think it’s unreasonable to ask someone to sell a house now,” she said.

She also noted that residency isn’t required of others of similar rank. “Other department heads live outside of town, like the Fire Chief who is on 24-hour call. I think a contiguous town is okay.” Chief Mauro lives in Northborough.

Selectman Sal Giorlandino said the police chief doesn’t need to live in town, but does need to live close enough to get to police headquarters “within a relatively quick time period.” He said the fact that the fire chief is not a resident also weighed into his opinion.

In the end, the selectmen decided the new chief must live in a contiguous town — Framingham, Ashland, Hopkinton, Westborough, Northborough, or Marlborough. Residency in Southborough was “preferred, but not required.” If needed, the police chief must relocate within 12 months of being hired.

The decision by selectmen probably came as welcome news to Interim Police Chief Jane Moran who has said she will apply for the position. Moran lives in Hopkinton.

So what do you think? Is it important for the community to have a chief who lives in town? Share your thoughts in the comments and take the latest poll (in the sidebar to the right).

For the latest on the search for a new police chief, click here.

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14 years ago

I don’t think the Chief should be required to live in town unless the Town is prepared to provide a rather large incentive a very large “incentive” to assist the winning candidate. I’m not so sure that contiguous woule be necessary either. I feel that living within a certain radius of the town would suffice. Yes, it’s important for the chief to be available to respond, but it doesn’t have to be immediate. We have very qualified sergeants to handle things until the chief arrives.

14 years ago

Just because the Police chief, or any other chief for that matter, does not live in the particular town that they work in, does not mean that they are any less capable of doing their job. If the Police chief is required to live in town, then every town employee, no matter what they do, should be required to live in town. Living in a neighboring town should be enough. If there is enough faith in the rest of the department, then this should not even be an issue. Next topic/issue please, we’ve waisted enough time already!

14 years ago

The residency issue if very important to this issue. It goes to the fairness, or lack thereof, in the Board of Selectmen’s decisions so far. By requiring all candidates to lives in Southborough or an adjoining town, the ONLY Southborough Sergeant who would be qualified to apply is Acting Chief Moran. Her permant rank is Sgt and the other Sgts would not be allowed to apply.

Why doesn’t the Board of Selectmen employ the same residency/proximity rule as the union contract language? Require applicants to live within 15 miles.

Fairness and openness. Why isn’t this paramount to this Board of Selectmen’s decision?

14 years ago

Requiring the chief to live in town will only limit the pool of candidates, I think it might even be illegal. In this day of instant communication I believe this would be a regressive thing to do

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