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  • Correspondent photo by Bruce Preston

    Brookline Police Chief Bill Quigley III started his position on Monday, October 26th. Quigley says that the patrol officers are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the department and he looks forward to developing an environment of community policing within the town.

  • Correspondent photo by Bruce Preston




    Brookline Police Chief Bill Quigley III started his position on Monday, October 26th. Quigley says that the patrol officers are the"nuts and bolts" of the department and he looks forward to developing an environment of community policing within the town.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brookline official: Police chief’s hours are OK

BROOKLINE – The chairman of the Board of Selectmen says officials aren’t concerned about the police chief working overtime, despite the restrictions on the chief’s hours set by the state and the town.

If Police Chief William Quigley is in the middle of a call when he nears 391⁄2 hours for the week, the board expects him to finish the job, inform the New Hampshire Retirement System, and pay back what he owes in contributions, Tad Putney told an audience of roughly 20 who attended the Monday night board meeting at Town Hall.

The town would likewise be required to repay the system for the hours worked in violation of the state rules, Putney said.

“The town got a fantastic deal, and we’re saving tens of thousands of dollars and getting a police chief with excellent experience,” Putney said.

Since Quigley collects a pension from the state retirement system, he is required to work part time. The town has defined that as less than 391⁄2 hours, but said Monday it’s OK if he works more.

Marty Karlon, spokesman for the retirement system, said the town would have “a problem” if violations of the chief’s hours became “a pattern.”

“If it was a regular occurrence, we’d look at it further,” Karlon said. “If someone can’t do the job part-time, it’s a whole different issue.”

Karlon said that in a one-time event such as the ice storm or a flood, situations that could require public safety employees to work for several weeks at a stretch without a day off, the chief and the town would not be expected to make contributions for those hours to the retirement system.

“One event like that wouldn’t be a problem,” Karlon said.

Quigley’s benefits are also covered by the state retirement system for further savings to the town. In all, the town is saving about $23,000 by having Quigley as its chief, according to Putney’s calculation.

Putney opened the meeting with a question to the chief.

“You and I had some questions, and the other board members, about how often you’re called when you’re not on duty,” Putney said, asking Quigley, whom he introduced as “the newest full-time resident of the town of Brookline,” if he receives calls on the weekends when he is off duty.

During his five months on the job, the chief said, he has not been called in during his off-duty hours.

“There’s been nothing more than a two, three-minute telephone conversation,” Quigley said.

The chief said he revised the police department schedule after joining the department, placing officers on 12-hour shifts that remain the same week after week.

Residents shouldn’t worry about police protection when he is off duty, Quigley said, because “every police officer has the same training as I have. . . . Every police officer is highly trained to handle a scene. The people downstairs (in the police department) are all very highly trained.”

One unanswered question surrounds Sgt. Michael Kurland, who has been on paid leave since mid-December.

Until he was placed on paid leave in mid-December, Kurland was second in command, and the chief said the sergeant’s position, whether filled by Kurland or another officer, would remain.

Kurland’s fate, however, is uncertain: the chief has recommended that he be fired and selectmen are expected to make a decision on the recommendation this week.

In recent weeks, following an investigation by the state retirement system into whether Quigley was working full- or part-time, the board has defended its decision to hire the 52-year-old veteran police officer who retired seven years ago and has continued to work while drawing his pension.

The retirement system determined Quigley had been working full-time since he was hired Oct. 25, and it ordered the town and the chief to repay contributions, roughly $3,000 from the town and $2,000 from the chief. The town also changed its personnel plan and the contract it has with the chief, ensuring that both comply with state law.

“In my mind, if he were to violate it (NHRS rules), we’d pay a fine,” Putney said, referring to contributions the chief and town were asked to pay after NHRS found that the town had violated NHRS regulations.

The payment to NHRS is not considered a fine, however, because it represents the retirement contribution the chief and the town would have paid into the system as active members. After retiring from municipal or state employment, an employee is allowed to draw a pension and to continue to work, but only part-time.

Selectmen Karl Dowling, elected to a first term on the board earlier this month, asked his colleagues why the question of coverage hadn’t come up before the chief’s contract was signed.

“Shouldn’t we have done this prior to the contract being signed?” Dowling asked.

Residents also wanted to know if the chief plans to stay in the job after his three-year contract ends.

Selectman Darrel Philpot, also in his first term on the board, said the town and the chief had negotiated a contract that should be respected and accepted.

“We have a contract with the police chief and we should give him the benefit of the doubt,” Philpot said.

Moving forward, Philpot continued, officials should “take a look at policies” to avoid “finding ourselves in this position again.”

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 24 or hbernstein@cabinet.com.