Late last year we wrote a letter that highlighted the private details the chief of police had been engaged in and had spoken at public comment about the propriety of a senior manager moonlighting, especially since some of the details occurred out of town. We felt that as a senior manager of the town this practice should be discontinued, that he should concentrate his energies on exclusively safeguarding and protecting the citizens of Hampton and that the selectmen appeared to lack the political will to stop this practice.
The recent Hampton Union report that he was injured while engaged in a physical scuffle with an unruly patron while working a paid private detail for Bernie’s Beach Bar underscores the necessity to curtail this practice immediately. We don’t need the chief injured and unable to perform his function at anything less than 100 percent. In addition, Bernie’s is currently the subject of controversy related to entertainment generating noise disturbing the neighbors. The police chief is responsible for enforcement of the noise ordinance; in July in the context of the Bernie’s situation, he expressed the opinion that the language in the ordinance is unclear and as currently worded does not work for the problem we have. This aspect creates the perception of a conflict of interest.
The whole practice doesn’t benefit the public; long-term it results in taxpayers footing the cost of increased pension benefits that the chief will receive for detail work and any impact on increasing workers comp premiums.
The Board of Selectmen need to step in here and hold a non-public meeting with the chief to discuss why he needs to continue to take paid private details, as well as examine the practices and policies regarding work details for managers of departments.