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NEW MILFORD Police chief’s ‘expired’ contract a mystery

July 30, 2018

NEW MILFORD — It’s been more than a week since the town administration decided not to renew the police chief’s contract — and questions remain about what led to the decision.

Was it because of officer turnover? A budgetary decision? A relatively new mayor’s law enforcement philosophy?

No one knows for sure — or at least, no one is saying.

Mayor Pete Bass announced the decision not to renew Chief Shawn Boyne’s contract earlier this month when someone accidentally posted the job position on the police department’s web site.

Bass, who could not be reached for comments despite several attempts during the past week, took responsibility for the error but didn’t give a reason for the move. He referred questions instead to human resources director Greg Bollaro, who also would not disclose what led to the decision.

“At the end of the day, we were not able to come to terms with the contract,” Bollaro said Monday. “The mayor wants to go in a new direction, but what that direction is I can’t say until we have a candidate in place. But we have a lot of respect for the chief and he’s done some great things with the department.”

Boyne, who has previously served as a commander with the State Police and could also not be reached for comment Monday, had served as the town’s chief for nearly eight years. His contract is set to expire in October.

“The chief was afforded the opportunity to work through the end of his contract,” Bollaro said.

Boyne earned $122,000 last year; the chief’s position is now advertised at a salary of $97,000 a year.

Town Council member Robert Muller said he is as much in the dark as the rest of the community, but would like to hear an explanation.

“The police chief is a very important position in town and if all of a sudden the contract is not getting renewed — that should be up for discussion and explained by the mayor and the director of personnel,” he said.

Muller said he was surprised to hear that the chief’s contract was not getting renewed, noting that there had been no discussion about the position during council meetings.

While Muller admits to missing the most recent meeting, nothing he said was mentioned on the council’s agenda or within the minutes of the meeting.

“From my perspective, when a chief is hired, that’s an issue that’s brought before the council, so in the same sense, if you are not renewing a contract, then the council should get the opportunity to weigh in on that decision,” he said.

Muller said he would also like to hear more information on why 17 members of the police department, which has a total of 46 officers, have left within the past four years.

“I would love to look at their exit interviews and see what they said on the way out,” he said.

Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran, who serves as president of the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association, said to lose more than a third of your department in four years is certainly out of the norm.

“That’s certainly quite a few officers to lose in just four years, but there could be a myriad of different reasons,” he said. “But that is more than the normal turn over. It’s not unheard of that a new politician comes to power and wants to change the philosophy. That often happens from the top.”

Bass, who was sworn into in December, is serving the first of a two-year term. Boyne was hired by former Mayor Pat Murphy, who also renewed his contract four years ago.

Cetran, who has about 50 members in his department, said that if he lost 17 officers in recent years, he’d probably have a “heart attack.”

“It can be a hard position to fill, and remember it takes more than 10 months of training before a new hire hits the streets,” he said.

dperrefort@newstimes.com

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