SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Eight months after the unexpected death of Police Chief Alan Brown, there is a new chief in town.
Members of the Board of Selectmen confirmed Interim Town Manager Dana Reed’s appointment of Winthrop Police Department’s Sergeant John D. Hall on Tuesday afternoon in a special meeting. His first day on the job will be July 12.
Hall was chosen from 13 potential candidates applying from as far away as Mississippi, according to Reed. “He’s just a good fit for the community, the Select Board really wanted that,” he told the Islander on Monday. “They’re looking for a working police chief.”
During his 30 years with the Winthrop Police Department, Hall worked as a patrol officer, a DARE officer, a resource officer in all of the town’s schools, a detective, a crash reconstructionist and most recently was made sergeant. Unlike most police departments recently, the nine-member Winthrop department has not had to deal with retention of officers.
“We’ve been fully staffed for a few years,” said Hall in a conversation with the Islander on Tuesday. “With me leaving, that is creating an opening… Everybody seems to be in recruitment mode.”
The father of three adult children, Hall has visited Southwest Harbor with his wife and is looking forward to becoming a part of the community.
“We both are really excited about living up there, except for the home prices,” he said. “It is such a quaint village and so peaceful… I think, for me, coming up there is a new challenge. I enjoy the challenges that different careers within law enforcement present.”
Last October, shortly after Brown died while off duty, Lieutenant Mike Miller was appointed the interim police chief for the department. There have been a lot of changes during his short tenure, with one dispatcher retiring, another deciding to pursue a different job and an officer out on medical leave for the last couple of months. One police officer voiced his frustrations with working so much overtime at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting.
“We know that all the officers are working a lot of overtime and have been conscious of that for some time,” said Reed, explaining that the process of finding a new chief takes time.
Reed was one of a four-member search committee that included Board of Selectmen members Chad Terry and Carolyn Ball, as well as Chris Bailey, who is the director of public safety for the town of Hampden. Out of the original 13 applicants, four were chosen for the final round of interviews and, ultimately, Hall was the top candidate for the job.
“He’s from a small community and it does have a tourism component to it,” said Reed about Hall. “John checked out six ways to Sunday and we’re looking forward to him getting started.”
After some time on vacation and settling into an area campground for temporary housing, Hall is also looking forward to getting started in Southwest Harbor.
“My first order of business is to get to know all of the employees and for them to get to know me,” he said. “I think being able to be a positive impact on the community is what I’m hoping for.”