EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 22, 2013

Police chief not just a one-state position

Police chiefs may retire, then take new post in new state

By Alex Lippa

---- — One Friday in 2000, Lawrence Streeter closed the door of his office in Salisbury, Mass., and retired as the town’s police chief. On Monday, he was back at work as police chief in Newton.

Streeter is one of many police chiefs who have come to New Hampshire after retiring elsewhere.

Michael Sielicki, president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, said starting a new job after retiring from another seems to be happening more often.

“It’s a trend that happens consistently,” Sielicki said. “To me, it’s not a bad thing. Guys do their time and move on to other places.”

There are several reasons why police chiefs and officers choose to come to New Hampshire from other states, he said.

“It’s different here,” he said. “We’re small and personable. In New Hampshire, when someone comes in, they want to speak directly to the chief, not to a deputy or a lieutenant.”

Streeter, 64, retired after 34 years in Massachusetts, including military service.

“I was offered a superannuation package,” he said. “Massachusetts was trying to get rid of a small percentage of officers. But I was only 52 at the time, I still had a passion for doing this and I had to be able to still send my youngest child through college. Fortunately, Newton allowed me to continue with what I knew and what I enjoyed.”

Sielicki said the trend also works the other way.

“Up until two years ago, state employees were eligible for retirement at 45 with 20 years of service,” he said. “For anyone who’s entered since then, it’s (age) 50 with 25 years of service.”

In 2007, Evan Haglund retired as Pelham police chief at age 51. Soon after, he became police chief in Topsfield, Mass.

Earlier this month, Atkinson acting police Chief Patrick Caggiano announced he would be retiring at 47. He is taking a job in Massachusetts, outside law enforcement.

“Our chiefs definitely retire at a younger age,” Sielicki said. “But with the new system, you will soon start to see chiefs stick around a lot longer.”

Derry police Chief Edward Garone said there was a pretty clear reason why people move to other states.

“I think it’s strictly monetary,” he said. “You can’t retire from a full-time chief’s position, receive a pension and then still work full time in the state. You have to go to another state.”

But, Garone said, not everyone who retires moves to a new job out of state. Former Derry police Lt. Jon Twiss retired from the department in July after 28 years. He is now the part-time chief in Fremont.

The region does have its fair share of chiefs who have enjoyed long tenures. Garone has been in Derry since 1972. Philip Consentino served in Atkinson for more than 40 years before he resigned as police chief in February.

In Plaistow, police Chief Stephen Savage has been with the department since 1986, but he admits he’s been tempted to work out of state.

“Over the years, I had expressed an interest in working in Massachusetts,” said Savage, 67. “I started exploring my options, as I think everyone does. I gave it thoughts and considerations, but it turned out I never wanted to go anywhere else. But I never had any true designs of leaving in the last 10 years.”

But, Savage said, for some it’s not all about the money.

“I think there is ego involved for others,” Savage said. “They like the personal or professional rewards. They care about the pomp and circumstance. But all the gold and the glitter hasn’t really been for me.”

Savage, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011, said he plans to stay in Plaistow as long as possible.

“I’ve got young children, so I want to provide for them as long as I possibly can,” he said. “Watching my people excel and watching Plaistow prosper is all that matters to me. I don’t have any grandiose visions beyond that.”

For Streeter, another retirement has crossed his mind, but he wouldn’t say when that might be.

“I still have a passion after all these years,” he said. “I still see results. But you reach a point where the head says go and the body says no. It’s definitely not as easy as it once was physically. I’m not a spring chicken here, but I am continuing to look at options.”

Hampstead police Chief Joseph Beaudoin, 66, said he has never been in a position to retire and work elsewhere.

“I do not get any retirement, I don’t get any paid vacations.” Beaudoin said. “When I choose to get done, I’m done. There’s no way I can work anywhere else.”

The police chief’s job in Hampstead is a part-time elected position. Beaudoin’s three-year term is up in March 2015.

“We’re finally building a new station in Hampstead,” Beaudoin said. “After seven years of fighting for it, I’d like to be able to spend some in it if I can.”

Garone said he hasn’t set a definite end date.

“Derry’s been a very rewarding opportunity for me, personally and professionally,” said Garone, 70. “I feel I will stay here as long as I’m making a positive influence and my health permits.”

But even he has been tempted.

“This was back many years ago, so I wasn’t eligible for retirement, but I had applied for a position at a larger agency out of state,” Garone said. “But I quickly made the realization that I was better here than where I was possibly going.”

Retiring and moving out of state was never an option, he said.

“I’ve never entertained that,” he said. “If I was going to be a chief, I could be the most effective one where I am right now, as opposed to elsewhere. It takes five to seven years to be a really effective chief in a department.”

Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark is relatively young by police chief standards at age 44. Early retirement isn’t on his mind.

“I’ve been in Pelham since 1996,” he said. “I live in town, my kids go to school here. We have a lot of friends here. This is where I’m planning on staying.”

Roark did acknowledge the position is changing.

“It’s a different job than what it was even five years ago,” he said. “Everyone expects things more instantaneously. It’s a faster pace than what it used to be, so it’s a little more challenging.”

Londonderry police Chief William Hart said Londonderry remains his main goal.

“I came to Londonderry to be a police officer because of the qualities of this community,” said Hart, 58. “It would be my hope to continue to serve the community in whatever way they feel I should.”

While he admits it happens often, Sielicki said, retiring and moving on to other states is not specific to police chiefs.

“It’s no different than with principals, superintendents or other professions,” he said. “It’s a more mobile society. People do a great job and they deserve to take advantage of that.”