By Alex Lippa
---- — ATKINSON — For the last month, Patrick Caggiano has been a busy man.
Since longtime Chief Philip Consentino was fired, Caggiano temporarily has absorbed the part-time chief’s responsibilities in addition to his duties as sergeant.
“I’ve been busier,” Caggiano said. “I was handling a fair amount of day-to-day operations before the change, but I’ve taken on several additional duties as well.”
Budgeting, payroll and other administrative duties are now on Caggiano’s plate. He is still working as a 40-hour employee of the town, but has delegated some of his responsibilities to other officers.
Consentino, 72, worked 25 hours a week as chief. He was with the department for 45 years.
The system is working well right now, Caggiano said. Selectmen have yet to decide the future of the chief’s job and whether it will remain a part-time position.
Caggiano said he would be open to becoming the permanent police chief if it is offered to him.
“I enjoy working very much for the town in my current position,” he said. “The selectmen and the townspeople are the ones who have to figure out the future of the position. From there, I would love and welcome the opportunity if things fit for me in my current position. I don’t want to focus on it until there’s a definitive answer in the direction the town wants to go with the position.”
Caggiano was endorsed by the Atkinson Police Association just days after Consentino’s firing as their choice for new police chief.
“It was humbling,” Caggiano said. “Even prior to talking to the officers, I knew the support was there. But we are just trying to operate the same way that we were operating.”
Selectman Todd Barbera said workshops are scheduled with Town Administrator Bill Innes, Caggiano and fellow selectmen to get more insight into how the department is running.
“Making it a full-time position is something we’ll talk about,” Barbera said. “But for that to happen, it would have to go through a town warrant.”
When that decision will come remains unclear.
“There is no timeline right now,” Innes said. “We don’t want to rush things. We want to make sure the moves we make are what’s right for the town.”
Caggiano said he doesn’t plan to make a recommendation about how many hours the chief should work.
“Organizational structure is something that is in the hands of the elected officials and the town administrator. That’s where I’m going to leave that.” he said. “In law enforcement, we are trained to just look at a situation and then deal with the situation as is.”
Also up in the air is the future of the elderly affairs department. That department is run out of the police station, but Innes has said there is the potential to separate.
Caggiano said no drastic changes have been made over the last month. Rather, they are continuing to focus on long-term goals.
“Things that have been in the works for a while are starting to come into focus,” he said. “We want to upgrade our computers, so they are in every vehicle. We’re also trying to update our in-house records management system.”
Caggiano has been a sergeant in Atkinson since 2011. Prior to that, he worked in Plaistow for 23 years.
“I’m happy right now and I enjoy my position,” Caggiano said. “If things change, we will adapt to it.”