News

Milford police chief retiring

Thursday, March 29, 2012

By KATHY CLEVELANDand MICHAEL CLEVELAND

Staff Writers

MILFORD – Police Chief Fred Douglas will retire in June after 34 years as a Milford law enforcement officer, but his time as a public servant won’t end.

Douglas told The Cabinet that he will seek public office in his home town of Lyndeborough, possibly as a selectman. Douglas held that post for several years in the late 1990s, before he was named chief of police in Milford.

Town Administrator Guy Scaife announced the retirement Monday night at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting, saying Douglas “deserves tremendous credit” for Milford’s very dedicated and competent Police Department. Douglas was appointed chief in January 2000.

In an interview with the paper, Douglas continually emphasized one theme: the professionalism and dedication of the men and women of the police department.

“From any standpoint,” he said, “people do look at the chief of police as a leader, but I still maintain to this day that the success or failure of the chief, or the organization, isn’t dependent upon the chief, it’s the people below him. I’ve had a fantastic staff and a very professional, caring agency.”

Douglas said he would not make any recommendation regarding his replacement, saying that was up to the town administrator and the selectmen.

“I am staying absolutely, positively out of any selection,” he said.

But he said there were some things that any new chief should keep in mind.

“Milford is a very special community,” said Douglas. “The chief needs to be accessible to that community, communicate with the public, and never treat anyone any differently than (the chief) would like to be treated in any situation.

“And never forget where you came from.”

Douglas has no intention of doing that. He made it clear that he is committed to Lyndeborough and that he hopes to find a way to serve that town.

He said he “definitely would consider” running for selectman.

“That’s something I have aspirations to do,” Douglas said. “I’ve always had an interest in the public sector. I was brought up that if you see a need, you need to step forward and do what you can to help other people.”

Douglas took over as chief at a time when the department was going through a bit of turmoil in the wake of a professional audit that included 113 recommendations. He said this week that at least 78 of those had been implemented in the years between 2000 and 2005 and when a recommendation wasn’t implemented, it was because of cost.

But as a result, he said, the department went through “huge, positive changes” and he sees change continuing once he leaves office because, he said, that’s how things work when command changes.

“Each time there’s an outgoing chief,” Douglas said, “it sometimes can be very beneficial to an organization. It comes down to, sometimes change is good for a public organization.”

Again, though, he said the staff he is leaving behind will make the job easier for anyone coming in.

The chief wanted to give the town a lengthy period of time to find a his replacement, said Scaife, and “We hope to have one by the end of June” after looking at external and internal candidates.

Douglas is known for his intense interest in traffic safety, including strict enforcement of the state law requiring drivers to keep their cars clear of snow and ice.

Recently, the chief was instrumental in having the state add two more stops to the intersection of North River, Purgatory and Center roads, making what is known as Fitch’s Corner a four-way stop.

To the annoyance of some motorcycle riders, the chief also strictly enforced the state noise ordinance that regulates bike mufflers.

Scaife emphasized that Douglas will still be “around for another week and three months.”

But after those three months, Douglas said, he will take some time to relax.

“I’m going to take some time to reflect on my career and spend some time with my family,” said Douglas, who with his wife Lynda has a son Fred, 28. “This can be a very draining profession. I’ve almost had to say sometimes that I live in Milford but I sleep in Lyndeborough.

“It can be very trying on your family,” the chief said, “and I couldn’t have done this without the support of my friends, my family and my coworkers.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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