New London’s New Chief: Town Picks 20-Year Veteran to Lead Police Department
New London police chief Edward Andersen visits the town offices in New London, N.H., to file paperwork with finance officer Wendy Johnson on February 27, 2014. It was Andersen's first day as police chief. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
New London police chief Edward Andersen talks with resident Doug MacMichael after MacMichael spotted Andersen in front of the New London Police Department in New London, N.H., on February 27, 2014. "He comes by a lot, asking, 'Did you get it?'" said Andersen, referring to his new position as chief that he started that day. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
New London — The new police chief is a familiar face around town.
Officials this week hired a more than 20-year veteran of New London’s police department as chief, replacing the former leader who resigned last year amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Edward Andersen, 40, of Sunapee, said he hopes to bring the department and community closer together — something he said helped propel New London forward during claims that former chief David Seastrand pressed a woman to pose for photos in exchange for leniency.
“The community said ‘we know you are going through hard times’ and it was overwhelming the support we got,” Andersen, who officially took the helm on Thursday, said.
He wants to continue building that relationship.
Since he became the interim chief in April 2013, Andersen said he has spearheaded community-oriented programs, such as conducting “active shooter” drills at the local hospital and at Colby-Sawyer College to better prepare for emergency situations.
“It is very important to me as the chief to ... do stuff that really helps people,” Andersen, a 1992 Sunapee Middle High School graduate, said.
His desire to help local residents stretches beyond informational programs, though.
During one of the bad winter storms, Andersen said on a routine welfare check he ended up helping a woman relocate the phone inside her home to better ensure her safety. Another time, Andersen provided a man in need of non-emergency help with a ride to his daughter’s house a few towns away.
“It is those type of things that I love about being a police officer and that I would love to see more of,” he said. “Those types of things put a smile on my face.”
Selectboard Chairwoman Christina Helm said it is likely Andersen will be officially sworn in sometime over the next couple of weeks — the specific date should be nailed down at Monday’s Selectboard meeting.
“I think that he has already done a wonderful job in terms of increasing morale and he has already proven himself,” Helm said, noting Andersen was chosen from a pool of 19 applicants. In the $72,000-a-year position, Andersen will head a staff of eight full-time officers, six part-time officers, and one civilian worker.
Town Administrator Kimberly Hallquist agreed that Andersen began boosting morale in the department as soon as he was named acting chief 11 months ago.
“The motivation is really high (at the department),” Hallquist said.
The search committee and Selectboard looked at each candidates’ ability to connect with community members and a department staff, as well as how approachable and likeable the individuals were, and how much experience they had.
He “absolutely” fit the criteria, Hallquist said.
“I think he has demonstrated since he was acting chief that he was up for the job,” she said. “I think he is very capable. He has a track record.”
Andersen grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and moved to Goshen at age 9. After graduating from high school, he started at the New London Police Department as a police cadet. He then worked part time as a dispatcher before moving up the ranks to a full-time patrol officer in 1997.
Starting in ’94, Andersen worked as a part-time officer in Goshen, and still covers the town on an on-call basis.
Andersen made national headlines earlier this year when he helped a man propose to his girlfriend in New London. As part of a mock incident, Andersen pulled the man over who was driving through town with his girlfriend and told him there was a warrant out for his arrest. Andersen told the couple to get out of the car, and handcuffed the man — to the shock of his girlfriend. A moment later Andersen then released the cuffs and the man walked over to his girlfriend, got down on his knee, and proposed to her.
The incident was caught on the cruiser’s dashboard camera, capturing for posterity the joyous moment.
Andersen told national news organizations that he helped pull off the stunt because of the back story: The couple met when he arrested both of them at a party at Colby-Sawyer College when they were freshmen. The man thought that since the New London police officer was part of the incident that first brought him together with the woman he wanted to marry, he wanted Andersen to be present at his proposal.
Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3248.