By Alex Lippa
---- — ATKINSON — Al Brackett hasn’t been a police chief for more than 20 years. Yesterday, he agreed to serve in that role again — temporarily.
Brackett, 62, was sworn in as the town’s newest interim police chief yesterday afternoon.
The Rockingham County sheriff’s chief deputy will serve until the town finds a permanent chief.
“My hope is that I can just keep the police department running efficiently,” Brackett said. “I want to keep operations smooth until the new chief comes in.”
Brackett was appointed to the position by Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing — at the town’s request. He replaces acting Chief Patrick Caggiano, who announced his retirement earlier this month. That move came after selectmen decided to conduct a search for a new chief.
“The sheriff asked if I was interested in the position,” Brackett said. “I had a discussion with him and with officials in town. We came to an agreement that I could serve the town well as an interim chief until they appoint the permanent one.”
Brackett served as Hudson’s police chief from 1986 to 1990. He then worked for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Fla., before returning to New Hampshire in 2003.
“A lot of people questioned why anyone would go from Florida to New Hampshire,” he said. “But I just wanted to be with my family.”
Brackett started as a deputy sheriff at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, then made his way through the ranks, serving as acting sheriff in 2009.
He said he will not be making many adjustments to the department.
“I don’t expect there to be any major changes,” he said. “I just want to keep things running smoothly within the agency.”
Brackett said he would be meeting with Caggiano yesterday to discuss the transition.
“We are acquaintances and have known each other in law enforcement for several years,” he said. “He’s given me some advice. I trust his advice and I hope that I will be able to do as well of a job that he did when he was the interim chief.”
Caggiano’s official last day is Dec. 28, but he will be on vacation next week.
The interim tag is the only one Brackett will serve under. He said he was “absolutely not” interested in becoming the town’s permanent police chief.
Town Administrator Bill Innes said Brackett will be a positive addition to the town.
“He provides quality, consistency and a level of integrity,” Innes said. “I think it’s oversight to make things go smoothly.”
Selectmen William Friel and Fred Thompson were at the Atkinson police station yesterday to swear Brackett in. He will work 32 hours a week as a part-time employee of Atkinson.
“I’m only allowed to work that much per week,” Brackett said. “My commitment is to working for Atkinson. I may work on occasion for the sheriff’s department. If I had to work there for whatever reason for two hours then I could only be in Atkinson for 30 hours per week. But my primary commitment is Atkinson.”
Atkinson will pay Brackett while he leads their department. The money will come from the $31,000 which has been budgeted for the police chief’s position. Just more than $9,000 has been used this year.
When Atkinson finds a permanent chief, Brackett will return to his 32-hour-a-week job with the sheriff’s department.
The town continues to search for a new full-time police chief. The position has been part time in the past, but next year’s proposed budget will include money for a full-time chief. Innes said the salary of the new chief has not been determined.