Don't go to the Selectmen - that would tie the Chief of Police's hands - Granite Grok

Don’t go to the Selectmen – that would tie the Chief of Police’s hands

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I’m sorry – this is NOT how local Government works.  Both TMEW and I were sitting on the couch and she went “WHAT!” which immediately caught my attention. She started to read this from the Gilford Steamer article. I’ve reformatted it with some emphasis by me:

With an unprecedented amount of temporary “No Parking” signs being put out to keep cars from clogging certain roads, the board of selectmen is asking the police chief to keep them in the loop on what roads are being signed.  Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee spoke with the selectmen during the June 10 meeting about the influx of “No Parking” signs being put out in areas where people have been parking to get on trails, to beaches, or other areas.

He said after they last discussed this Town Administrator Scott Dunn sent him an email advising him to get board approval if he wanted to put up “No Parking” signs. He said the point was raised by Sgt. Kevin Baron that requiring board approval ties the chief’s hands and Bean Burpee said he agreed with that. He was asked to approach the board and get clarification on this.

Bean Burpee said in the six years he’s been in Gilford they have put up a record number of “No Parking” signs. With the pandemic and Stay at Home orders more people have been getting out to local recreation areas, such as trailheads, and have been creating parking congestion in different areas. Police have been placing temporary signs were placed in sections of Belknap Mountain Road, Route 11, Scenic Road, Carriage Road, and other places where there had been a large amount of cars parked by trailheads or other recreation areas.

“All of these issues were because residents had called and talked about parking on their roads,” Bean Burpee said.

Now, I have NO problem in putting out No Parking bans where traffic is impeded and First Responders (e.g., large vehicles like larger ambulances, fire engines, and ladder trucks). Ditto for special events (like Old Home Day celebrations or parades). But just because a resident wants one doesn’t mean they should get a parking ban.

My issue, bolded above, it the “requiring board approval ties the chief’s hands” line. Sorry, but let me remind the Sergeant that while he works for the Chief, the Chief is supervised / works directly for the Selectboard.  He reports to them – that how our system of governance works. We hire people with specialized skills to serve the ultimate employers – us. In turn, we elect people to oversee our employees – the Selectboard (in this case). At no time should that notion ever be that a Chief is independent from the Board that signs his paycheck.

IF the Selectmen want to “tie the Chief’s hands”, his hands get tied.  That’s being or showing disrespect – that is honoring the Chain of Command. The Selectboard decides policy (like a CEO would do) for the entire town. Yes, the Chief gets to set policy but only for his force – if the Selectboard says “you need to ask / tell us BEFORE signs are placed”, well that’s their call. THEY get to make the call. Period

Chain of Command. f the Chief, A Chief, anyone or anywhere, can’t respect that, they should resign. Not the Chief’s and not the Sergeant’s.

And  certainly, not mine.

I like our Chief – I have had nothing but good interactions with him and I’m glad that this turned out to be merely a “micro-kerfuffle”.