ATKINSON — For the first time in almost a year, the town has a permanent police chief.
Selectmen appointed acting Chief Albert Brackett to the permanent position at their meeting Monday.
Brackett will work 32 hours a week and earn $69,000.
“I’m pleased with the reception which I’ve gotten from Atkinson since I’ve been here,” Brackett said. “I’m encouraged by the officers which we have here and I’m looking forward to working for the town.”
Brackett, 62, was appointed acting chief in December by Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing. Brackett had worked in the Sheriff’s Department since 2003. Prior to that, he was the police chief in Hudson and had worked for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Fla.
“Selectmen believed that the job he was doing in town was very positive,” Town Administrator William Innes said. “When we looked at Brackett and the job he was doing, it became obvious that he is the right guy for the job. ... He has the support of the other officers in the department. He’s already jumped in and made a significant difference in the operation of the department.”
Brackett said he became interested in the position shortly selectmen announced it would be part time. Brackett couldn’t have worked full time without losing his New Hampshire retirement benefits.
“I spoke with (Innes) after they made that decision,” he said. “He indicated to me that the selectmen would be interested in the prospect of me becoming a part-time chief. We talked about the conditions and terms, and came to an agreement.”
Brackett signed a three-year contract with the town Monday night.
Selectmen’s Chairman William Friel said he was pleased Brackett is remaining in town.
“Chief Brackett has vast experience that he brings with him to the position,” he said. “His references are impeccable and he is fully certified by New Hampshire Police Standards and Training. He will represent the Atkinson Police Department with integrity and professionalism.”
Innes said he didn’t anticipate the town moving much money around in the budget to bring on Brackett permanently.
“We still have to look at it,” he said. “But we’re already without two officers who left us and have $42,000 already budgeted for the position.”
Brackett admitted he has mixed feelings about leaving the sheriff’s department.
“There’s a lot of loyalty and goodwill with the sheriff and the rest of the staff over there,” he said. “I enjoyed my employment there in the 12 or so years I worked over there. It’s been a great place to work.”
Brackett’s appointment ends what has been a revolving door in the department. Last February, longtime police Chief Philip Consentino was dismissed by selectmen for “cause.”
He was replaced by Sgt. Patrick Caggiano, who served as acting chief until Dec. 19. Caggiano retired from the department after selectmen opted to conduct an open search for a permanent chief.
But Brackett still believes the position eventually needs to be full time.
“Considering the size of the town and the department, I think it will eventually work it’s way into a full-time position,” he said. “As the town moves on, they will find that there is a need for a full-time chief. But, for right now, it’s manageable.”