Southborough Select Board opts for internal search for new police chief

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The Southborough Police Station is located on Cordaville Road. Photo/Laura Hayes
The Southborough Police Station is located on Cordaville Road. The town is now looking within the police department’s ranks for its next police chief.
(Photo/Laura Hayes)

SOUTHBOROUGH – Southborough will look to its existing police roster as it continues a search for a new police chief following a vote by the Select Board last week. 

Forgoing a broader search open to applicants from outside of Southborough, the town is moving forward just a matter of weeks after the departure of former chief Kenneth Paulhus, who had been placed on leave earlier this year.

An internal search, Select Board member Lisa Braccio said on June 16, will let the department “heal.”

Select Board members discuss options

Speaking last week, Select Board member Chelsea Malinowski said both internal and external searches had advantages and disadvantages. She continued, however, saying that the level of experience in the Southborough Police Department would likely generate interest to fill the position internally. 

Malinowski said that, if the town decided to look at external applications, it would be able to see what the pool of interested candidates looks like. 

However, she said that this had the disadvantage of being more disruptive, as a new police chief hired from outside of Southborough would be less familiar with the department, and would require a longer timeline to get up to speed. 

Select Board member Lisa Braccio strongly supported an internal search, saying that there are candidates in the police department who understand Southborough and the department.

“I personally think we have what we’re looking for from within the department,” Braccio said.

Braccio noted that the department has been through a lot, saying that she thinks there is support from within the department for an internal search.

Newell serving as acting chief

Paulhus had been on leave since March. 

Earlier this month, Paulhus and the town then announced that his employment wouldn’t continue beyond the end of May. 

Town officials have not shared information on why Paulhus was initially put on leave nor why he was leaving the department.

Ryan Newell has been serving as the town’s acting police chief.

The topic of Paulhus’ employment with the town, likewise, came up at Town Meeting earlier this year when multiple voters voiced concerns about Paulhus’ extended yet unexplained absence.

Town previously conducted external searches

While Southborough is now eyeing an internal search, it has looked outside of its borders before, most recently selecting Paulhus from his previous position as a Captain with the Woonsocket, Rhode Island Police Department. 

Select Board member Sam Stivers said that previously the town had made correct decisions by doing external searches for police and fire chiefs. However, this time, he said he thought that maintaining continuity and preventing disruption were compelling reasons for an internal search.

Select Board member Andrew Dennington also supported an internal search. Dennington said that the position had been vacant for such a long time that the faster timeline of an internal search was more appropriate. 

“This position has really not been filled since February,” Dennington said. “It’s now June and that’s a factor for me weighing against the external posting.”

Letters of interest and resumes for the position are due by June 27. The Select Board will then discuss the next steps to take during a meeting on June 28.

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