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Whitman selectmen name deputy police chief

Sgt. Scott Benton wins position
By Allan Stein
ENTERPRISE CORRESPONDENT
Posted Oct 01, 2008 @ 02:40 AM

WHITMAN -
Acknowledging a difficult choice between two excellent candidates, selectmen Tuesday appointed Whitman Police Detective Sgt. Scott Benton as the department's new deputy police chief.
Selectmen voted 4-1 in favor of the appointment after lengthy interviews with Benton and Whitman Detective Sgt. Timothy Hanlon, who scored highest in the "weighted and graded" selection process.
Scores were based on the results of an assessment center interview, a written Civil Service exam and experience in law enforcement.
"We have a great police force here. They are very close in scores," Selectman Brian Bezanson said about the two candidates.
Benton has 22 years of service in the department compared with Hanlon's eight years. Both candidates emphasized their leadership abilities and professional accomplishments as reasons why they should be deputy chief.
"I have done just about every job within our department. I have always challenged myself and tried to improve," Benton said.
Benton, 45, a lifelong Whitman resident, joined the department as an auxiliary officer in 1986 and became a patrolman in 1990.
In 1991, he became the department's D.A.R.E. officer and was promoted to sergeant in 1994 and detective sergeant in 1997.
He also volunteered as incident commander in a mock terrorist bomb incident at the Holt School that involved more than 100 people.
Both candidates fielded questions from selectmen that asked how they would be a "good fit" for the department, their view of officer morale and future department goals, drug abuse in Whitman, how they would each handle disciplinary matters and "disgruntled" officers and how they would reach out to the community.
"Right now, in the police station, it's a good period. We are moving in the right direction," Benton said about department morale.
Hanlon, 41, was appointed detective sergeant in 2003. For the past five years he has been a lead investigator in some of the town's most serious crimes.
"If I didn't feel I was qualified for this job (as deputy police chief) I would not be here before you," Hanlon said. "My morale has never been low. I love this job. I can't imagine doing anything else."
Although Hanlon scored highest in the examination process, four out of the five selectmen considered Benton's greater experience to be a decisive factor.
Selectwoman Margaret McGillivray said Benton would compliment Police Chief Christine May-Stafford, who recommended Hanlon as deputy chief.
"I truly believe both candidates are qualified for the deputy chief position," she said.
However, McGillivray said it would be a "disservice to the community not to pair her up with somebody who has 22 years on the job."
Selectman Daniel Salvucci cast his vote for Benton, citing his successful management of the mock terrorist incident as proof of leadership ability.
"I am looking for a person I feel will take charge," Salvucci said.
Selectman Karl F. Kowalski, who voted for Hanlon, said test scores are "tangible" indicators that weighed highly in the selection process.
May-Stafford said the salary of the deputy chief position is still in union negotiation.
 
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