The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 16, 2005


Search Committee picks Glen McKiel for next Police Chief; Selectmen delay vote

Which is most important when you are searching for a new Police Chief for the Town of Carlisle? To the search committee, a candidate's qualifications were the primary reason for their choice of Glen McKiel to replace recently retired Dave Galvin. But to the standing-room-only crowd who filled the Clark Room at the December 13 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, the popularity of Acting Chief John Sullivan far exceeded any qualifications that McKiel might have. After a long and animated discussion, the Selectmen postponed a final decision until their meeting next week on December 20.

The goal for Tuesday night's meeting was to present the qualifications of the leading candidate selected by the Police Chief Search Committee, made up of Doris Jafferian, Selectmen Tony Allison and Bill Tice, and Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie. Chair Doug Stevenson had hopes that the Board could wrap up the meeting with a unanimous vote and then welcome the new chief into office. This quickly faded as townspeople began to pour into the room prior to the 9 p.m. agenda time, filling all the seats, lining up along the walls and then spilling out into the hallway. Clearly there had been an organized effort on Acting Chief Sullivan's behalf that would prevent a quick resolution.

Bill Tice reviewed the actions of the Search Committee over the past six months. They placed ads for a new chief in the Concord Journal and Community News last August and received six responses. These were whittled down to three top candidates, who were then interviewed for one hour each on such topics as background, prevention and readiness, union relations, personal leadership style, and community relations. The search committee made extensive reference checks with the candidates' Selectmen, Fire Chiefs and co-workers and only after long deliberations did they come forth with a decision. "Based on his ability to lead at the chief level, a vision consistent with Carlisle's, proven conflict resolution, financial management, and grant development experience and success," said Tice, "our unanimous recommendation is for Glen McKiel, Chief of Police, Warren, Massachusetts."

Selectman Tony Allison continued the Search Committee presentation by reviewing the rationale for recommending Chief McKiel for the Carlisle Police Chief position. He read the Search Committee's report to everyone in the room (see the full report on pages 4 and 5.)

Allison concluded his reading by asking Chief McKiel if he would like to say a few words and then answer any questions from the Board of Selectmen. McKiel, who had been sitting unnoticed in the front row, rose and reiterated his vision for Carlisle to the Selectmen and audience. He offered three early initiatives to those asking for more specifics — a police website to better communicate with the townspeople, an annual open house so that everyone can meet members of the police force, and more outreach to seniors. The 44-year-old McKiel, with his wife seated beside him, presented an articulate and confident justification for his appointment as Carlisle's Police Chief.

Audience support voiced for Sullivan

Carlisle residents turn out in record numbers on December 13 to question the recommendation of the Police Cheif Search Committee. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

Speaker after speaker rose to praise Sullivan, denounce the Search Committee for not including the community in their decision, and ridicule the Selectmen for perceived mistakes both past and present. McKiel remained calm and under control during the barrage of criticism that poured forth from the angry townspeople, but there were moments when he undoubtedly wished he had never responded to the "help wanted" ad.

Interim Chief Sullivan has made many friends during his 20 years on the Carlisle Police Force and now they made their presence known. David Toher of Curve Street presented a petition to the Selectmen with 160 signatures in support of Sullivan. "There would be more if we had the time," said Toher. Jic Davis of West Street asked, "Doesn't the opinion of this community have any influence?" Allison responded, "This is not a popularity contest!"

Piper Lind of Mill Pond Lane wondered whether any consideration was given to Dave Galvin's recommendation of Lieutenant Sullivan, and Tice assured her that it was taken "very seriously." Bill Deane of Bedford Road mounted the attack on McKiel personally by asking, "How can you leave a job where it's not finished yet [Molly Bish]?" McKiel informed the audience that the case is now in the hands of a grand jury and his role is completed. "The case may never be solved," he regretfully replied.

Peter Chelton of Old North Road, and chair of the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee for two years, commented that Sullivan acted professionally in all his dealings with the committee. "This individual has paid his dues," he said. "What does it tell the other officers? What message are you sending?" Jay Luby of Woodbine Road, to protracted applause, affirmed that "Carlisle has the finest police force in the state. Why risk the unknown downside and lose continuity? We should show him [Sullivan] the loyalty that he has shown us." Susan Evans of Heald Road chose to attack the Search Committee. "One town employee [McKenzie], one appointee [Jafferian], two elected — where's the public?"

But the loudest and longest applause occurred when former Police Chief Dave Galvin took the floor and repeated his unqualified recommendation for Sullivan. "He is intelligent, compassionate and fair," affirmed Galvin. "If you like the job done under my tenure, then you will like the job that John will do!"

After order was restored by Stevenson, the Board of Selectmen Chair turned to McKiel and assured him that Carlisle is a welcoming community. "Thank you, Mr. McKiel, for visiting us this evening," said Stevenson with a note of optimism.

Selectmen John Williams and Tim Hult, who have not had the opportunity to meet McKiel privately, asked that a meeting with him be arranged for later this week. By the Selectmen's meeting next week, all of the Board will have had a chance to evaluate McKiel, and Stevenson expressed hope that a final decision can be made at that time.

Editor's note: The results of that meeting will appear on the Mosquito web page.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito