ATKINSON — After a month on the job, acting police Chief Al Brackett met with selectmen on Monday night to discuss his first impressions of the department.
Brackett had several suggestions for selectmen, including a major legal concern.
“People have access to our building that shouldn’t,” Brackett said. “We have a responsibility to protect the privacy information of suspects and witnesses. When non-police personnel are in the building, it’s difficult to control that.”
The Elder Services Department has shared the same building as the police department for years. Former police Chief Philip Consentino used to lead both departments.
Town Administrator Bill Innes said Elder Services soon will be moved out of the building.
“It will be moved to the community center,” Innes said. “They should be there within the next two or three weeks. Most of our programs are run out of the community center, that’s the logical place that it should reside.”
Brackett said the police station was not designed to host two departments.
“There needed to be some way to physically separate them,” Brackett said.
Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing asked Brackett to step in and serve Atkinson after former acting Chief Patrick Caggiano retired. Brackett is Downing’s chief deputy.
Brackett also suggested to selectmen the department needs more established leadership.
“There needs to be someone in command if the chief’s not present,” he said. “Some days, it can be overwhelming and we don’t have that supervisory assistant that you need. That’s especially important with the decision to go to a part-time chief.”
He cited an independent review done by Municipal Resources Inc. in 2011, which called for two sergeants to serve under the chief.
“One would have responsibilities over patrol, and the other would have both patrol and investigation responsibilities,” Brackett said.