“The full-time police chief department make-up which is proposed by the selectmen gives the residents a better police department at a reduced cost,” he said. “I am hopeful that once the residents understand that there is no increased cost for this change, they will support a full-time chief.”
Innes pointed to the Budget Committee’s recommendation to keep the position part time and budgeting only $25,000 for the position. He said that wasn’t realistic.
“Who is going to work 30 hours a week for that salary?” Innes said. “No one is going to want to do that.”
But former Atkinson police Chief Philip Consentino said plenty of candidates would be interested.
“These days, police officers retire young all the time,” Consentino said. “They would love to pick up a part-time job.”
Consentino was one of 38 residents who signed the citizens petition.
The town has seen three police chiefs within the last year. Last February, 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.
Since Caggiano retired, Rockingham County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Al Brackett has served as interim chief. Brackett has said he is not interested in the permanent position.
Innes said selectmen will not alter their search based on the petition.
“We are going to proceed through this process as if we are going to hire a full-time police chief,” he said.
Voters turned down proposals to change the position to full time in 2000 and 2001.
“That was a different day and time,” Innes said. “We had a part-time chief that was beloved in town. He wouldn’t have been eligible to become a full-time chief. It was based on a popularity contest. The articles were supported primarily by people in town who liked the chief who didn’t want to see him go.”