A meeting at Whiton Library in the north end of Manchester was held last night. The meeting’s purpose was to seek input from the community on the hiring of a new police chief for Manchester. After a week of feeling as if the seething, hyper-partisan fury in national politics might be insurmountable it was refreshing to sit around a table with a small group of citizens, politicians and town officials sharing concerns and ideas about local issues. The group, consisting of four politicians and about a dozen residents was thoughtful, considerate and focused. Board of Directors members in attendance were Yolando Castillo, Pamela Floyd-Cranford along with Mayor Jay Moran and Deputy Mayor Margaret Hackett. Special thanks to Scott Shanley, General Manager and DeDe Moore, Director of Administrative Services for organizing and Whiton Library staff for hosting.
These three questions were posed to the group:
- What are the top three law enforcement challenges in Manchester?
- What should the new Chief’s highest priority be?
- What traits are best in a candidate for Chief of Police?
Traffic safety, car vandalism and visibility of cops were top concerns. The issues facing pedestrians like texting drivers and people ignoring ‘no right turn on red’ signs were on the minds of most attendees. Also, there are some issues with poorly lit streets and people double-parking and blocking fire lanes and traffic at grocery stores.
The group thought that the highest priority for the new chief should be to get to know Manchester and it’s people and to demonstrate benevolent leadership to the rank and file. There are currently 110 officers in Manchester with funding for 117. The field training for officers is intense and stringent and creates one of the best forces around. The town is a diverse community with students coming into our schools speaking 69 languages besides English. There was consensus that the new chief should gain public trust by being visible to residents and instill in the department the best qualities of community policing.
Traits desirable in a police chief include calmness, good judgement and passion for the town of Manchester. Also, excellent communication skills, with both the community and the police officers under his or her command, are mandatory. Additionally, the ability to speak another language, and if not a member of a minority group him or herself, then be open and sensitive to issues facing people of color. The chief should have qualities above and beyond the norm.
The search continues. More meetings are scheduled for community input tomorrow night at the Senior Center and Thursday night at the Eastside Community Resource Center. Both meetings begin at 7:00 pm.