Search committee questions whether Bristol harbormaster needs a gun


A group of private citizens helping the Town of Bristol hire a new harbormaster is hoping to have a final list of top three candidates by the end of February.

On Dec. 19, the nine members of the Bristol Town Council-appointed search committee received a primer from Bristol Town Clerk Louis Cirillo as to what their objectives are and how best to proceed.

David Barboza, who was named chairman by the group, addressed the first challenge before them.

“The sticky wicket in the harbormaster job description is the ‘appropriate law enforcement education certification’,” Mr. Barboza  said. “We cannot deviate from this job description.”

More than 15 people applied for the job, however details such as qualifications, job description and salary, have yet to be decided. The committee may seek to eliminate police powers from the role.

“The bottom line is if we proceed with that qualification (the only option) is hiring only someone who is a police officer or a former police officer,” said Mr. Barboza.

The committee will ask the town council to change the ordinance in order to open the field to candidates with strong qualifications but no background in law enforcement. Retiring Bristol Harbormaster Joe Cabral, a graduate of the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy, was certified to carry a firearm, but said he does not see that as a necessary qualification.

“Right now this is a safe harbor,” he said. “Not 100 percent, but it’s safe. You don’t need a weapon, just common sense.”

Included in the current job description is the requirement to have a captain’s license. While all agreed that requirement was essential, the level of captain’s license must still be clarified.

The new harbormaster may also be asked to be more involved in economic development as it pertains to the waterfront. As a business owner, committee vice chairwoman Alayne White sees that as a vital component to the position.

Committee members will continue to research harbormaster job descriptions and salary ranges in communities similar to Bristol in  order to provide the town council with a revised version for approval.

Once the job qualifications and requirements are clearly defined, the committee will begin their task of reviewing applicants.

The search committee will meet again on Jan. 3.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.