Manager selects Brian Peters as Portsmouth’s next police chief

Former deputy chief is now interim police chief in Bristol

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/19/19

PORTSMOUTH — When Brian Peters unexpectedly retired as deputy police chief in March 2018 after 20 years on the force, Police Chief Thomas Lee remarked that he had always wanted his …

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Manager selects Brian Peters as Portsmouth’s next police chief

Former deputy chief is now interim police chief in Bristol

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — When Brian Peters unexpectedly retired as deputy police chief in March 2018 after 20 years on the force, Portsmouth Police Chief Thomas Lee remarked that he had always wanted his “right-hand man” to be his successor.

It appears that may happen after all.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. will ask the Town Council Monday night to ratify his appointment of Col. Peters as Portsmouth’s next police chief. Col. Peters is currently serving as interim police chief for the Town of Bristol, a position he’s held since March of this year.

Portsmouth Police Chief Thomas Lee notified the town earlier this month of his intention to retire on Sept. 6. 

(His last day of work is July 12, but since he’s using his earned time off, Chief Lee's retirement won’t be effective until September, Mr. Rainer said.) The administrator said he then approached Col. Peters regarding his interest in returning to the local force. 

When he retired, Col. Peters acknowledged the possibility of applying for the Portsmouth chief’s job in the future.

“I could, if the town was interested,” he said last year. “Anything’s possible. We’ll see what happens down the road.”

Mr. Rainer outlined his reasons for selecting Col. Peters in a letter to the council.

“During his tenure in the Portsmouth Police Department, Brian served as a field training officer, an instructor of the Citizens’ Police Academy, a detective inspector, a patrol sergeant, a detective lieutenant, and from May 2013 to March 2018 he served under Col. Lee as the deputy chief of police, responsible for every aspect of the department’s day-to-day operations an resources and was an integral member of the police construction building team until his retirement in 2018,” Mr. Rainer stated in the letter.

“Brian is an outstanding officer with 21 years of policing experience. No one knows the administration, operations, personnel and policies of our Police Department better than Brian,” the administrator continued. 

“I am convinced Col. Peters possesses the educational background, professional experiencer and leadership integrity to head our Police Department. I ask for your concurrence.”

As interim police chief in Bristol, Mr. Rainer pointed out, Col. Peters oversees a department comprised of 40 full-time police officers and manages a budget of $6.89 million.

Mr. Rainer said if the council approves his selection, he will appoint Col. Peters as interim chief in Portsmouth until Sept. 6. The following day, he would be sworn in as the official chief, the administrator said.

Although Col. Peters was tightlipped about the timing of his retirement from Portsmouth last year, others said the primary reason was the potential loss of pension benefits in the next labor contract.

Bristol aware of situation

Bristol Town Administrator Steve Contente said Wednesday afternoon that he is very aware of Chief Peters’ situation, and he’s prepared to respond if the chief is hired in Portsmouth.

“Chief Peters has been excellent for the Bristol department, and his communication with me has been excellent,” Mr. Contente said.

Assuming Chief Peters makes a move to Portsmouth, Mr. Contente expects he’ll stay in Bristol through the Fourth of July celebration, and then make the change in July. The town administrator said he expects to promote a new interim chief from among the current command staff within the Bristol department, with that person serving until September.

Bristol is in the midst of the process to hire a permanent chief, having already screened a pool of 13 qualified applicants and moving ahead with a written test of all candidates. Once that is complete, the town administrator can hire one of the top three candidates from that process, which he expects to do in September.

“I’m confident that the people of Bristol won’t notice any difference in police services until the new chief is appointed, probably in September,” Mr. Contente said.

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