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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

If Only Atkinson Were New Castle.

From the Plaistow Town Crier; Thank you Mr. Herrick

If Only Atkinson Were New Castle.

Posted by Dennis Herrick on December 05, 2009 at 08:44:18:


New Castle was at risk under ex-Chief James Murphy

Before theft charges, Murphy was said to have hoarded pay details, and had officers carrying guns without proper training

Police Chief James Murphy of the New Castle Police Department.

Rich Beauchesne photo By Elizabeth Dinan

December 05, 2009 2:00 AMNEW CASTLE — Four months before former Police Chief James Murphy was arrested on a felony charge alleging he stole charity money, a pair of consultants published a "confidential report" saying Murphy's subordinate officers were carrying weapons they weren't trained to use, that Murphycollected private detail pay while on salary and that he spent too much time training for a regional SWAT team the town didn't use.

Murphy resigned on Oct. 1 following his arrest on the felony alleging he stole $8,675 from the Coast Guard/New Castle Police Food Drive between November 2002 and December 2004. The state attorney general's office is prosecuting and alleges Murphy confessed and said he took the money for his wife, who is not charged with a crime. He was indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury and a trial has not yet been scheduled.

The report was prepared by Central Intelligence of Kennebunk, Maine, which was hired to "conduct an abbreviated management and operations assessment" of the Police Department and make recommendations. The company was hired by the town's contract attorney, Daniel Schwarz, and published on May 26.

Central Intelligence President Michael Pardue is a private investigator who formerly served as police chief and town administrator in Ogunquit, Maine, as well as interim police chief in Kensington. He was assisted by Thomas Howard, who serves as city marshal — a position comparable to police chief — in Newburyport, Mass.

The report notes that, while Murphy was New Castle's police chief, his officers were transporting Colt AR-15 tactical rifles in their cruisers but were not instructed on how to use them by a trained firearms instructor.

"This is greatly concerning and places the officers and the town at great risk, both from the perspective of safety and liability exposure," the consultants found. It was recommended that the chief "immediately remove" the rifles from the cruisers and "secure them in a manner where they are not accessible to untrained personnel."

Further, a new officer was found by the consultants to have been working in uniform and carrying an unloaded pistol because he "had not yet been trained and certified on the use of said weapon."

It was recommended that training be provided and documented.

The consultants also learned that Murphy took all paid detail opportunities at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel and if he couldn't personally work the event, he allowed the detail to go "unfilled," rather than assign it to another officer. The consultants found many in the town were concerned about the former chief also working road details while collecting his $60,000-a-year salary.

The behavior was viewed by some as "double dipping," or collecting pay for two jobs while performing one, according to the report.

Some interviewed by the consultants reported "the chief's participation in the Seacoast Emergency Response Team" training "involved far too much of his time." Further, the consultants were told, "the town derives no benefit."

Recommendations included having the chief provide the Board of Selectmen with a detailed training schedule and itemized accountings for all related costs, including for backfilling in his absence during the training.

The consultants found the former chief's "poor and/or ineffective leadership" included written policies that were 11 years old and appeared to have been taken from Raymond (where Murphy previously worked), with the names of the towns changed. It included a policy for responding to bank alarms in New Castle, where there are no banks, and allowed for up to eight cruiser accidents a year, when the town has only two cruisers patrolling one square mile.

"The list of policies that reflect 'items' not found in New Castle could go on for some time," according to the consultants.

The investigators also found the Police Department had no organizational structure and no mission, while "each officer appeared to simply be doing whatever they wanted with a complete lack of administrative direction." Further, they reported, there were no job descr1ptions, disproportional workloads and "responsibilities not being addressed."

A lack of trust within and outside the department was noted, as was a recommendation that the former police chief engage with the public on a daily basis by walking around the community, interacting with citizens, visiting schools and spending time with his employees.

The town's consultants also found inadequacies with police headquarters, including an evidence area where a pistol and ammunition magazine were found stored in an area "easily reachable from outside the 'gate.'"

The infrastructure inadequacies have since been rectified by construction of a new public safety building.

While touring the police station, the consultants noted the absence of found property and reported "one would expect to see items such as cell phones, cameras, video cameras, jewelry, wallets, purses, bicycles, clothing, etc."

When asked about it, Murphy said little property was ever found, and if it was, was returned to the owner, but there was "no formal process" for dealing with found items, according to the report. Other employees reported found items were taken to the public works building and placed in a bucket. Public works reported that items of value were taken to Town Hall.

The consultants stressed they were not calling into question the honesty of personnel handling found property, but noted "the lackadaisical approach" could open the town up to others doing so.

The report also noted that when the town was looking to hire a new officer, Murphy failed to advertise for candidates who already graduated from a police academy, leading to the town paying for 14-week academy training. Hiring academy graduates in the future would save New Castle "significant funds," the consultants found.

In conclusion, the investigators reported, "it appears that Chief James Murphy is not currently exhibiting the fundamental skills, knowledge, abilities, judgment and management capabilities needed to effectively direct and manage the affairs of the New Castle Police Department."

If Murphy was to continue as chief, according to the report, he should be "provided with external management oversight."

No one from the town's Board of Selectmen was available for comment Friday, according to the board's secretary. Don White Jr. has since been named the town's new police chief.


Anonymous said...

WOW, are they desribing Atkinson?

Billy has been paid to do details, while getting his $60,000+/yr. salary. He has also beenpaid training money on top of his salary, for the same hours. He is on the regional SWAT team and the town has NEVER needed to use it, and derives no benefit! We got no benefit from Phil sending Billy to Quantico for FBI Sniper training either!

Anonymous said...

Phil wears a gun he hasn't certified for in years. Are ALL the officers trained and certified for the tactical shotguns or rifles in the trunk?

Anonymous said...

Central Intelligence of Kennebunk, Maine needs to review Atkinson.

Anonymous said...

I don't think phil has had ANY refresher training in years.

Anonymous said...

The DOS won't give up the training records, which is wrong in itself. They don't have to reveal grades, just certification.

The end result is that the State is as much to blame for this continuing problem in our PD as the BOS is.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can take up a collection and hire these guys to do the work of the BOS.

Anonymous said...

How did these guys get the info about who was qualified for which weapons? Hmmm? And we can't? I think we should try to get it again.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think phil has had ANY refresher training in years."

Sure he has, he watches Soprano reruns everyday!

Anonymous said...

Seems like a plan, I wouldn't mind paying a few extra dollars in taxes to outsource management of the police department to an outside agency, God knows our BOS hasn't the guts to do it.

Anonymous said...

I am quite sure it would cost us less.

Anonymous said...

Just look at dispatch;

We pay Plaistow $31,500 to do ALL of the fire dispatch, ALL of the highway dispatch, and 77% of police dispatch(4pm- 8am M-F, and all weekend) We pay $60,000 to do the police dispatch ONLY from 8am- 4pm M-F ONLY!!!

Of course that includes the time they spent sending out mailers for Phil's private business, but still...

Anonymous said...

Well MAYBE he thinks it's ok to do work out of the PD for his PRIVATE SLUSH fund.

After all, he registered the corporation using the address and PO BOX of the ATKINSON POLICE DEPARTMENT.

I'm sure he also claims "it's elderly affairs work".... but it's not, it's abuse of power by the BOS and the PD, all of them.

And don't come back and say they are only following orders cause if you follow crooked people and do crooked things, you are also a crook.

Cna you believe this town?

Anonymous said...

The other good thing about using the Plaistow dispatch is that you can get the records of calls from them.

In case anyone is looking for any call records.

Anonymous said...

Phil like to tell people looking for records that they will have to pay for a clerk to scrub "personal info" from the records. The personal info he usually scrubs are addresses, which, hate to tell you Philly, ARE PUBLIC!

How can you enforce the law, if you have no F***ing clue what the law is?

Anonymous said...

Our BOS has no BALLS.