PORTSMOUTH — Town Administrator John Klimm is recommending that Thomas F. Lee, a senior commander in the Boston Police Department, be appointed as the town’s next police chief.
The Town Council will consider the administrator’s choice at its meeting Monday, Sept. 23. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth Town Hall.
The town has been without a permanent police chief since the retirement of Lance Hebert last December. Major Jeffrey Furtado, retired deputy police chief, has been serving as interim chief since then. The police chief will lead 33 officers and two civilian employees in a department that has a budget of about $4.8 million.
Mr. Lee has 32 years of experience in law enforcement, serving in a variety of positions in the Boston Police Department including commanding the Criminal Investigations Division, Special Operations Division and serving as a district commander for the city’s largest police district — leading 200 employees in serving 65,000 residents, according to his resumé.
Mr. Lee, who lives in Hanover, Mass., beat out a “very strong field” of 84 applicants for the position, Mr. Klimm said in a Sept. 19 letter to the Town Council. The applicants came from a total of 21 states, including a number from people stationed on military bases outside the country, he said.
Twenty-one of the candidates received essay questions developed to provide town officials with information regarding skills, experience and training of the candidates and how that may relate to Portsmouth, Mr. Klimm stated in the letter.
Of the 18 candidates who submitted essays, 13 were invited to participate in telephone interviews. “As a result of the telephone interviews, five candidates were invited to participate in an intensive two-day assessment center” exercises designed to present real-world interactive scenarios and written assignments to the candidates, Mr. Klimm said.
In a phone interview Friday, Mr. Klimm said one applicant from within the Portsmouth Police Department was among the five finalists, although he declined to provide his name without getting prior approval.
“But there’s really no reason for me not to release his name. I’m proud of him,” Mr. Klimm said.
At the conclusion of the assessment center, MRI Associates, the firm hired by the town to assist in the recruitment and selection process, identified three candidates with a high probability of success in the position, but Mr. Lee was identified as “stellar,” Mr. Klimm stated.
“Mr. Lee excelled in all areas, has an extensive background in all facets of policing, and although he comes from a very large urban department, he lives in a community smaller than Portsmouth, and believes he will acclimate quickly to the environment,” Mr. Klimm stated in the letter. “Based on the MRI team’s significant interaction with Mr. Lee throughout the process and an extensive background investigation, the team recommended him without reservation and believes that he will not only (be) and excellent choice to lead the Portsmouth Police Department, but an asset to the greater Portsmouth community as well.”
Mr. Klimm said he interviewed Mr. Lee for two hours on Sept. 18. “I am convinced that Mr. Lee possesses the educational background, professional experience and leadership and integrity to lead our department to a new and higher level,” he stated.