PELHAM — Since his days at the academy, Police Chief Evan Haglund has maintained the philosophy that a good police force works side by side with its community.
Haglund’s second in command of five years, Capt. Joseph Roark, shares this sentiment, and hopes to maintain the bridges that Haglund has built during his 28 years on the Pelham police force if he is offered the job of police chief.
“Running a police department is not just about enforcement, it’s about partnering with the community to solve problems,” said Roark.
Haglund, 51, announced last month that he will retire in May after seven years at the helm. A recently passed New Hampshire law allowed him to add five years to his service, making him eligible for retirement.
“It’s in the best financial interest of my family to make this move,” said Haglund. “I’m still young enough that I can retire and offer my services to another community.”
Haglund applied for the position of police chief in Tyngsboro on Jan. 29. His last official day in Pelham will be June 1.
The Board of Selectmen must decide on a process to appoint Haglund’s successor.
“They may post the position or they may determine that the best man is sitting in the office next door to me,” said Haglund.
In the past, the department has worked on a merit-based succession plan. Administrators always try to promote from within first, according to Roark.
“This creates a culture of healthy competitiveness in the department,” said Roark. “People are rewarded for hard work.”
After 10 years with the Pelham Police Department, Roark is next in line for the chief’s position. He credits his fast track to the opportunities Haglund has afforded him.
“The chief has really allowed me to excel and move forward,” said Roark.
In the chief’s absence, Roark takes on the daily responsibilities of running the department. Over the next couple of months, he will participate more as Haglund shifts away from his obligations.
Roark said he takes a multifaceted approach in maintaining an efficient department. If given the opportunity, he will continue to work with community groups, town departments and school administrators and keep up with community task forces like the partnering with parents and Internet safety seminars jump-started by Haglund.
Drug enforcement has been a major priority for the department throughout Haglund’s reign because the chief says it helps reduce property crime and shoplifting. Roark said he will continue an aggressive drug- enforcement effort.
“I don’t see the need for any major changes in the department,” said Roark. “Chief Haglund is leaving a very well-run Police Department.”
Managing a well-balanced budget is something Haglund prides himself on. In each of his seven years as chief, he returned a budget surplus to the town. Roark said he hopes to follow in Haglund’s footsteps by maintaining fiscally responsible budgets.
Haglund said he feels confident that he will leave the department in good hands if Roark is offered the position.
“Capt. Roark is committed to this town. That’s important; you don’t find that level of commitment these days,” said Haglund.
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