James Sartell, police chief in Hollis, New Hampshire, is poised to become deputy police chief in Townsend.
James Sartell, police chief in Hollis, New Hampshire, is poised to become deputy police chief in Townsend.

TOWNSEND -- The interim police chief has become the full-time police chief, and his deputy will be a former colleague from Hollis, New Hampshire.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 Tuesday night to appoint Rick Bailey, who has served as interim chief since April, to a permanent position and to appoint James Sartell, who currently leads the Hollis Police Department, as deputy chief.

Sartell plans to retire as chief in Hollis and collect a pension while working as Townsend's deputy chief. In a Tuesday interview, he said he looks forward "to mov(ing) to a similar size department with hopes of leading it some day."

"The challenge of that opportunity, knowing the chief of police there, his value system, is the allure to me," Sartell said.

After voting to appoint both positions, selectmen and the candidates entered closed-door negotiations. The contracts had not been signed as of Wednesday morning. Bailey will be offered a three-year contract with an annual salary of $130,000, according to the town administrator.

"I'm pleased that the board unanimously approved my appointment as permanent police chief," Bailey said in a Wednesday statement. "My experience in Townsend so far has been rewarding with new efforts underway and much community support."

Sartell will be offered a one-year memorandum of agreement with an annual salary of about $120,930. His MOA lasts only one year, but contains a clause that renews it every year unless the town notifies him six months in advance that it does not plan to do so.


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Sartell has been with the Hollis Police Department for two decades and has been its chief since 2011. It is not yet clear when he will take over as Townsend's deputy full-time as he plans to help Hollis with coming budget planning, but he will negotiate with Bailey about how to strike the right balance.

Townsend's new chief and deputy chief already know each other. Bailey has previously worked in the Hollis department, and is still listed as a part-time patrol officer on the department roster.

Sartell said Bailey only worked a single large-scale event detail since taking over in Townsend.

Before interviewing three candidates for deputy chief, Bailey filed an ethics disclosure acknowledging his past relationship with Sartell. Selectmen Gordon Clark and Cindy King voted to approve the ethics form and allow Bailey to proceed, although the vote did not include a condition that Bailey cease any work with the Hollis Police Department.

Bailey took over on an 18-month interim contract in April after the Board of Selectmen voted to terminate former Chief Robert Eaton. Controversy had gripped Townsend for months over municipal investigations into the department and alleged misuse of the background-check system by police.

Selectmen decided over the summer to hire a deputy chief and voted on Sept. 19 to seek a permanent police chief. At that meeting, Town Administrator James Kreidler said he believes the department needs a stable, full-time leader, particularly to help attract ideal candidates for the number two job.

Kreidler missed contract negotiations with Bailey this spring due to a medical issue, so he was not present to weigh in on the 18-month interim contract that was approved. At the September meeting, Kreidler said he believes the chief should have been hired permanently or given a six-month interim contract.

The department has seen turmoil in that time. In addition to Eaton's termination, several other officers were disciplined, and a vocal group of residents loudly protested what they saw as a "witch hunt" against police.

Sartell said he believes he can offer leadership and support as a deputy.

"This is a team sport, this is a team endeavor," he said. "I really believe in community policing. I really believe in the tenets of that, which is that you get to know the people you're policing."

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.