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Norwich Chief To Help Out In Thetford

Robinson to Fill Interim Role While Search Continues

Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson speaks about gun safety at during a meeting in Norwich, Vt. on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (Valley News - Libby March)

Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson speaks about gun safety at during a meeting in Norwich, Vt. on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (Valley News - Libby March)

Thetford — Norwich police chief Doug Robinson has agreed to fill in as Thetford’s interim chief while the town looks to replace Jim Lanctot, who stepped down as chief last month after 11 years with the department.

When Lanctot announced last month that he would leave his post on May 23 to operate a pizza restaurant, the Selectboard asked Robinson if he would join the town’s search committee for a new chief. But instead, Robinson and Norwich Town Manager Neil Fulton offered that Robinson take over as Thetford’s interim chief.

Robinson is expected to work about eight to 12 hours a week as the interim chief while still completing his regular 40 to 50 hour week as the Norwich chief. His role will be primarily administrative, overseeing paperwork and reviewing and approving reports and keeping the office running, but he will not be patrolling.

“We couldn’t be more pleased just to have the department in solid experienced hands,” said Selectman Donn Downey. “I think it will help the transition a great deal.”

Robinson makes $35.89 an hour as the Norwich chief and that will continue to be his hourly wage as the Thetford chief. Through the municipal contract, Thetford will pay Norwich $75 an hour for Robinson’s services, which includes his pay, benefits and administrative costs, Fulton said.

Robinson started his duties as interim chief about a week ago, and Fulton said that he and Robinson will sit down in about a week to discuss the situation and make sure it’s working for Robinson.

This is not the first time a local chief has filled in as an interim chief in a nearby town. In 2003, the former Hartford chief acted as the interim chief for Norwich when the town was trying to fill the position.

“Communities need to help each other and this was an opportunity for us to do that,” Fulton said.

Thetford compiled a search committee, which is scheduled to start meeting this week. The Selectboard had originally envisioned a committee made up of four or five people, but it has grown to eight or nine people because the committee felt it needed more representation. The committee is made up of familiar faces, including a former Thetford police officer, Bradford Police Chief Jeffrey Stiegler, a member of the FAST Squad, a former Selectboard member, the executive director of the Aloha Foundation, among other community members. The committee will vet candidates, conduct preliminary interviews and make recommendations to the Selectboard, which will have final say.

The Selectboard hopes to hire a chief within three to six months, but Downey said it’s hard to predict exactly how long the process will take.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.