Hanover Police and Fire Chiefs Both Plan to Retire in October
Hanover — National searches will begin soon for new police and fire chiefs, as both departments are poised to lose leaders who have worked for the town for 40 years or more.
Police Chief Nick Giaccone, 65, who suffered a stroke in February, has decided to retire on Oct. 1.
Giaccone didn’t sustain any cognitive damage from the stroke, but he has lost fine motor skills in his left hand.
For instance, he can pick up a glass of water, but he could not pass an exam at a firearms range, which is a required annually for law enforcement certification.
Fire Chief Roger Bradley, also 65, plans to retire on Oct. 31. He joined the department’s junior volunteer program when he was a sophomore at Hanover High School.
After nearly five decades with the department, Bradley said it’s the right time for him to retire.
Giaccone, however, is not excited about his retirement. He’s been eligible to retire with a full pension for several years, but he said if it wasn’t for the stroke, he would not be ending his career.
“I’m not in a celebratory mood,” Giaccone said. “I would have liked to stay because we had some really nice new people, and I would feed off their enthusiasm. I wasn’t thinking about retirement.”
It’s been six months since Giaccone’s stroke in February — which is how long Town Manager Julia Griffin told Giaccone to recover before reassessing the situation. Giaccone said he made the decision to retire with the help of discussions with Griffin, but ultimately it was his decision.
Giaccone said his health care providers do not know if he’ll make a full recovery. He said the town couldn’t wait another six months to a year to see if he’d gain full motion in his left hand.
“He stayed in the job because this is what he does,” Griffin said. “He’s stood watch over this community for a long time, and for him, it’s just part of his life.”
Giaccone first joined the department in August 1973 at the age of 26. Before he took the job as a police officer, he worked at Stinson’s Village Store delivering kegs of beer to fraternities.
“I saw first hand the drinking,” said Giaccone, who lives in Grantham.
In July 1994, he became chief.
“Nick was talking to me early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends on a regular basis,” Griffin said. “That’s the kind of police officer he was. He’s always accessible, always available. He’s accustomed to be woken in the middle of the night by dispatch. At some point, you have to let somebody else be on duty.”
One of the memories that sticks in Giaccone’s mind while he was chief is when two Dartmouth professors, Half and Susanne Zantop, were killed inside their Etna home in 2001.
Giaccone said he remembers responding to the scene and having the O.J. Simpson trial fresh in his mind, in which physical evidence was “screwed up.” When investigating the homicide, he said he ensured that his department was diligent not to destroy the physical evidence at the scene.
As for Bradley, a lot has changed since he joined the fire department as a full-time firefighter in 1969 and became chief in 1986. In the 1960s, the department only had two breathing apparatuses for the entire department, and they were carried on suitcases on top of the fire engine. Now, the entire department has compressed air tanks and masks.
In the 1960s, Hanover didn’t have an emergency services division. If someone needed an ambulance, the local funeral home placed a red flashing light on top of its hearse and arrived at the scene to provide medical services.
In 1969, the funeral home stopped offering that service, and the town bought an ambulance and began training personnel in basic first aid. More than 40 years later, the town has a licensed paramedic service.
Bradley now lives in Wilder, but said he never thought about leaving the Hanover department because that is where he grew up.
“I loved it,” Bradley said. “I was able to start working my way up the ranks. It’s been incredible.”
Griffin said Bradley has a great sense of humor and often appears laid back and chill, but can be tough when needed.
“He’s a stickler,” Griffin said. “You want that with a fire chief in a college community. He’s worked very closely with people at the college just to methodically tackle each and every one of Dartmouth’s buildings.”
Capt. Frank Moran, a veteran officer, will continue running the police department while the town conducts a national search. The town is still looking for an interim fire chief, Griffin said, adding that it will likely be someone who is already working within the fire department. The searches to fill each position could take four to five months, Griffin said.
In the meantime, the town is planning farewell celebrations for both Bradley and Giaccone, but details have not been set.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3223.