The town has appointed a 24-year police department veteran to fill the role of interim chief while it searches for a new top cop.
Sgt. Stephen Laroche was named interim chief at Monday night’s selectboard meeting, a role he’ll fulfill starting Friday, Oct. 6, the day 18-year Chief Brett Van Noordt will retire.
Van Noordt, who has served at MPD for more than 30 years, announced his retirement last month. The town plans a sendoff for him this Friday at noon, during which Laroche will be sworn in.
Town manager Don Turner told the selectboard the town had multiple internal candidates for the interim chief role, but Laroche was chosen for his experience with scheduling and budgeting.
“We need that stability right now,” he said.
Laroche started in Milton as an officer in 1992 and has advanced his career here since. He was named detective corporal in February 2000, a short stint he served until that December, when he was promoted to sergeant, his résumé shows.
As one of the department’s two sergeants, Laroche also assists with daily operations, including conducting staff meetings, writing policy, supervising officers and managing police data. He also has a hand in recruitment and promotions.
He received the 2016 Chief’s Award for “outstanding attention to duty and exceptional services to the public,” accolades echoed in the town’s press release announcing his appointment.
“Sgt. Laroche has been recognized for thoughtful and thorough policing that places the needs of the community before all others,” it reads.
The town said Laroche’s appointment “ensures continuity in operations, which means residents should see no changes in their level of policing services.”
Monday night, John Bartlett, director of administration and human resources, outlined the hiring process from here.
The town will begin advertising the police chief position regionally on October 10 with applications accepted until Halloween.
A seven-person committee of six townspeople and one selectboard member will use a matrix to score applicants’ experience, education and any specialized training, service to and knowledge of Milton and leadership potential, Bartlett said.
The committee will report the ratings back to HR, and the top candidates will be forwarded to another vetting group, comprised of town staff and one non-supervisory police officer for interviews.
The process aims to find a new chief by year’s end, if not sooner, Bartlett said.
“We want it to be an open and transparent process that allows for inclusion of some community members,” he said.
Selectman John Palasik, who retired from MPD in 2015 after nearly 30 years, said he would consider serving on the committee. Bartlett hopes to have selectboard representation determined by October 16, the board’s next regular meeting.
Turner said the town will advertise the committee openings to gain community interest.
“It’s a very important position today,” he said. “Community policing and everything going on – we really want to be sure this critical team player in our organization has been vetted through the public process, starting here tonight.”