Following the recognition of retiring Police Chief Tom Connolly at the July 20 City Council meeting, City Manager Steven Buck described the lengthy process of selecting the Chief’s replacement. A 22-Person Committee was appointed to provide input into the City’s and Department’s needs for the next Police Chief. The Committee, comprised of Police and Union representation, community members, City administration and Councilors, was polled on attributes desired in the next Chief, in addition to qualifications as a law enforcement officer. These attributes included commitment and expertise in the areas of community policing, recruitment and retention, leadership, communications and community involvement, visioning and long-range planning for the Department. The results from the survey, combined with administrative qualifications, were utilized to develop the process for interviewing candidates for the position.
Fourteen well-qualified candidates applied. Based on their applications and qualifications, all fourteen were scored in a number of areas including credentials, knowledge of Maine law, administrative and public relations experience, and more. The five highest-scoring candidates were selected for the first round of interviews (one later withdrew). The oral board that conducted the interviews included the Police Chiefs of Wells and Kennebunk and Fire Chief Steve Benotti, as well as City administration, Mayor Mastraccio and City Councilor Ayn Hanselmann. The first round of interviews focused on primarily technical capacity in law enforcement, leadership and administration. Two of the four candidates were unanimously selected for the second round.
Round two focused predominantly on the best fit for the Department’s current and future needs, including recruitment and retention, and a vision for the Department. The interviews were conducted by City administrators, Mayor Mastraccio and Councilor Hanselmann, plus Lieutenant Matthew Gagne and Deputy Chief Tim Strout. After the second round, Deputy Chief Craig L. Andersen was the unanimous choice to succeed Chief Connolly.
DC Andersen’s qualifications for the position include a BA in Criminal Justice from Husson University. He is a Maine Criminal Justice Academy graduate and instructor, fire arms instructor, use of interactive force instructor, municipal ordinance prosecutor, and SWAT Instructor. He is certified in NTOA SWAT supervision and management, and has undergone law enforcement training through the FBI. He currently serves as commander of the Southern Maine Special Response Team.
Except for a six-month stint with the Department of Homeland Security, DC Andersen has been with the Sanford Police Department since 1989, rising through the ranks and serving in all capacities. Mr. Buck praised his work as Deputy Chief including his ability to partner with other agencies, his knowledge and ability on Departmental accreditation, and the implementation of community policing strategies. He stated that DC Andersen has the support of the Department as their leader. He added, “I would further note the exceptional communications and ability to connect with the public of DC Anderson. His life and career experience that allows him to be both a stringent law enforcement officer as well as demonstrating the highest level of empathy for the diversity within our City and the ability to problem solve in areas around the law is exceptional.”
DC Andersen gave a brief presentation on his vision for the Police Department. He said community policing works best when all members of the Department commit and become invested in accomplishing the goals. He outlined several key aspects of the community policing strategy. The first aspect is development of community groups across a socio-economic spectrum, including the elderly, the business community and marginalized residents. The Department can then learn what problems those groups face, and work toward solutions. “Every voice matters…if we don’t listen to what the community says, we won’t be able to effectively address those issues,” he said.
Another key aspect of the community policing strategy involves the Department’s mental health unit, which will be staffed in the next few weeks with assistance from the York County OPTIONS program. Social workers will be embedded in the Department and co-respond with officers, and provide case management and follow up to people in crisis.
DC Andersen also spoke about his plans for recruitment of new police officers to the Department. He has a team in place that will attend career days at local schools. He said he would like to revisit the police collective bargaining agreement to try and make it more attractive to potential recruits. Other avenues he will pursue include revisiting the reserve officer program, and the possibility of civilianizing some positions within the Department.
DC Andersen thanked his Mom, who was present, and the Police Department, many of whom were standing at the back of the Council Chambers. He said without their vocal support he would not have applied for the position.
The City Council voted unanimously to confirm the appointment. The new Chief received a standing ovation from the Council and audience.
City Clerk Sue Cote performed the swearing-in ceremony. For his first official act, Chief Andersen promoted Sergeant Chad L. Allen to the rank of Lieutenant. (See photo below.) Lt. Allen has been with SPD since 2008. He is an active member of the Special Response Team, a firearms instructor, lockup instructor, and Police Training Officer Coordinator, and has many other specialties. Lt. Allen is assigned to the midnight shift as the shift commander.
The vacant Deputy Chief position will be filled with an Acting Deputy Chief. This will allow the Police Department to continue the work they are doing with our community projects without any setbacks. The new ADC will be announced on Monday. Some duties will be shuffled around as the Department works to become as efficient as possible.