The council voted 7-0 to appoint Thomas Lee of Hanover, MA, former deputy superintendent for the Boston Police Department, as the new police chief for the Portsmouth Police Department.
Prior to the discussion, Town Administrator John Klimm paid tribute to the interim police chief.
“I would be amiss if I didn't first offer my heartfelt thanks and profound respects to one of the most decent public servants I've had to work with over the last 30 years...Jeffrey Furtado,” Klimm said.
Audience members in the council chamber stood and applauded Furtado. Those in attendance also stood a second time to applaud the interim Deputy Chief Steven Cofield.
Klimm went on to discuss the “exceptional” candidate for Portsmouth police chief. “Mr. Lee excelled in all areas (of the candidate process),” Klimm said.
The town administrator outlined Lee's professional experience and reference interviews, including a reference from Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis.
Lee, a resident of Hanover, MA, has more than 32 years experience in law enforcement, including more than 10 years with the Boston Police Department. He is also an adjunct instructor at Endicott College in Massachusetts.
The town received applications from 21 states for the position of police chief. Thirteen candidates were invited for telephone interviews.
“I understand for some in this community, it's a very difficult choice,” Klimm said. “While I'm here tonight to recommend someone who is not from Portsmouth, I am deeply respectful of those...who always believe we should hire someone from Portsmouth.
“This doesn't mean I don't believe hiring from within...I think my core responsibility to you is to put together the best management team...There is only one clear choice and I believe it's Mr. Tom Lee.”
Each councilor said they supported Klimm's choice for police chief.
“I'm about as hometown as you can get in this town you call Portsmouth,” Councilor John Blaess said. “...I think at this time, it's the right choice for this town.”
“I think he's the best choice for the town,” Councilor David Gleason said. “It was an unbiased approach,” Councilor Michael Buddemeyer said.
Klimm said Lee is planning to move to Portsmouth.
“Mr. Lee and his wife are presently looking for a rental and will be looking to move to town,” Klimm said.
“I know a good realtor,” John Vitkevich joked.
Lee was officially sworn into office as police chief following the vote.