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City’s No. 2 Becomes No. 1: Deputy Chief Gary Smith to Lead Lebanon Police

  • Lebanon Police Chief Gary Smith talks with officers during a shift change on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon, N.H. From left are , officers Callie Barrett, Steve St. Louis, Gordon Cunningham, and Bartlett Kapuscinski. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Lebanon Police Chief Gary Smith talks with officers during a shift change on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon, N.H. From left are , officers Callie Barrett, Steve St. Louis, Gordon Cunningham, and Bartlett Kapuscinski.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gary Smith in his office on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon N.H. Smith has been named to be Lebanon's Police Chief.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Gary Smith in his office on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon N.H. Smith has been named to be Lebanon's Police Chief.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon Police Chief Gary Smith talks with officers during a shift change on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon, N.H. From left are , officers Callie Barrett, Steve St. Louis, Gordon Cunningham, and Bartlett Kapuscinski. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Gary Smith in his office on Nov. 4, 2013 in Lebanon N.H. Smith has been named to be Lebanon's Police Chief.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Lebanon — After mulling it over for several months, Interim Police Chief Gary Smith, a department veteran, will drop the “interim” from his title and become the city’s top cop starting next week.

Smith, 61, has led the department since March when Jim Alexander, who now works as the emergency management coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, resigned. Smith said he was torn over whether to apply for the permanent job, but taking over as interim chief helped to provide clarity.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” said Smith. “I guess I had to work things out for myself and experience it firsthand.”

City Manager Greg Lewis, who made the announcement on Monday morning, said the application from Smith landed on his desk three to four weeks ago.

Lewis had been conducting the second round of a nationwide search to fill the position, but he said the decision to hire Smith did not take long once the 27-year veteran of the department threw his hat into the ring.

“He put it together for himself and what he thought was best for Lebanon and the Lebanon Police Department,” Lewis said. “He put an application on my desk and that’s all he had to do.”

Smith joined the Lebanon Police Department as a patrolman in 1987 and advanced through the ranks, including all supervisory positions within the department, over the years.

Smith became deputy police chief in March 2006. As chief, Smith will earn an annual salary of about $106,755.

Smith said one of the primary reasons why he hesitated to apply for the post was apprehension over whether he could handle the responsibility of being the public face of the department, including tasks such as briefing media and the City Council on police matters, attending municipal meetings and giving presentations.

“I did that earlier in my career and then (Alexander) took over that responsibility,” he said. “I hadn’t done it, and it’s something if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Alexander wrote in an email that he has known Smith for 24 years and considers him a close friend.

“He is a great person,” Alexander said. “He was an important part of any success we had during my seven years as chief.”

Smith said his priorities for the department are in sync with those outlined by the city manager, which include four targeted “outcomes” for public safety: replacing aging emergency communications equipment, increasing the use of technology in order to provide more information to the public, better syncing police budget management with other departments and establishing a “sense of place and security” by involving citizen action groups.

“Each one is important in a different way,” Smith said.

Lewis said that Smith has “achieved mastery over the police profession” during his time with the department. He said that is evidenced by “how he handles himself in dealing with fellow officers, the public, dealing with ethics, dealing with honesty and the openness that he has.

“So his strength is being a police leader,” Lewis said. “And he’s passionate about the Lebanon Police Department and about Lebanon.”

Smith will oversee a department with a $5.7 million budget and 48 full-time employees. He will officially begin his duties as police chief on Nov. 12.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

CORRECTION

Newly appointed Lebanon Police Chief Gary Smith's salary will be about $106,755 a year. An earlier version of this story misstated the time frame.