EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 4, 2013

Atkinson chief is leaving town

Caggiano says decision to conduct search was 'disheartening'

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — ATKINSON — Acting police Chief Patrick Caggiano is no longer a candidate for the permanent post. And, after Dec. 28, he will no longer be a member of the Atkinson Police Department.

In October, town officials announced they would conduct an open search for a new police chief. Yesterday, Caggiano took his name out of the running.

Caggiano, 47, announced he would retire from the department at the end of the month. His last day will be Dec. 28.

“There was uncertainty with my future in Atkinson,” he said. “I worked with some great men and women here in Atkinson, and I accomplished some great things here, but I would have liked to have accomplished some more things.”

Caggiano, who lives in Boston, said he is taking a job outside of law enforcement in Massachusetts.

Town Administrator Bill Innes said he received Caggiano’s resignation yesterday.

“It was not really surprising,” Innes said. “He has a very strong public record with the town, but he’s working far from home. I didn’t expect it this early, but I knew this was a hard decision for him and the right decision for his family.”

Caggiano said he first started thinking about leaving Atkinson in October.

“When I learned — through the newspaper — that they were doing a search, that was a little disheartening,” he said. “That’s when I began actively pursuing another job.”

Innes said the town never ruled Caggiano out.

“He was being considered in the process, if he applied,” Innes said.

After longtime police Chief Phil Consentino was fired in February, Caggiano was named acting police chief.

“In law enforcement, we strive to go through the ranks,” Caggiano said. “But then you reach the tip of the pyramid and are so close to the optimal goal, and then they say they want to look elsewhere.”

He has worked in Atkinson since 2011. Prior to that, he worked in Plaistow since 1988.

“For the first time, I made a choice which was beneficial to myself and to my family, rather than what was beneficial to my career,” Caggiano said. “It’s win-win for me. I will make more money, have a better commute and this is more conducive to my family.”

Caggiano’s salary was $66,000.

Selectman William Baldwin, who’s also a Plaistow police lieutenant, said he was still trying to come to terms with Caggiano’s resignation yesterday.

“I’m just still trying to wrap my hands around it,” he said. “He’s done very hard work for the town.”

Innes said he sent a letter to selectmen yesterday, asking how they want to move forward.

“The search for a new police chief had been on hold as we dealt with the budget,” he said. “It’s up to them to determine when they want to start the search again.”

Caggiano worked full time in Atkinson, sharing duties as sergeant and acting police chief.

The chief’s job has been part time, but selectmen voted to make it a full-time position in next year’s budget. The full-time salary has not been determined.

In October, Innes had said he hoped to appoint a full-time police chief after Town Meeting in March. But Caggiano didn’t want to wait that long.

“I determined that I wasn’t going to put all my eggs in one basket,” he said. “I didn’t want to put my family on the back burner.”

The next step for the town will be naming a new acting chief.

“There are alternatives,” Innes said. “Our expectation is that people in the department will be able to do that.”

Caggiano said he would not recommend a successor.

“My suggestion would have been me,” he said. “But they didn’t go along with me.”