Wednesday, March 12, 2014
WILTON -- Selectmen voted unanimously to appoint Heidi Wilcox as the new chief of the town's Police Department during a meeting Tuesday night in Wilton.
Wilcox was picked from a pool of 25 candidates who applied for the job, which was vacated this summer by E. Page Reynolds, who resigned because of his fears about the police force being disbanded.
Wilcox, 45, lives in Weld and is leaving a deputy position with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department to take the job. Her appointment was applauded by about a dozen residents and town officials present. She then pledged to protect the town of about 4,100 residents.
"Thank you for your trust in me, and I'll do my best to not let you down," Wilcox told the crowd.
She has worked in law enforcement for 23 years in Maine, spending the last decade as a deputy and emergency dispatcher for Franklin County. Before that she was an officer in police departments in Jay and Livermore Falls, according to Rhonda Irish, town manager of Wilton.
Wilcox also worked as a special investigator during her 14 years on the Jay police force, Irish said, adding that she was unable to give the duration of that assignment.
Wilcox will earn a starting salary of $47,500 and have other employee benefits. The salary amount is based on a town pay scale used for certain administrative positions, which are exempt from unions that other town employees belong to, Irish said.
All job applications, with seven from Maine residents, were reviewed by Irish and Selectmen Tom Saviello and Russell Black. Seven candidates -- five men and two women, including three from Maine -- were chosen for interviews, which were conducted by a committee consisting of selectmen, residents and other town employees, according to Irish.
Final interviews involving Wilcox and another out-of-state finalist were conducted by Selectman Terry Brann and Irish.
Sgt. Richard. H. Billian Jr. served as interim police chief for the town since Reynolds resigned in July. Billian, 27, was promoted to sergeant earlier in the year, having worked for seven years in the Wilton and Farmington police departments.
Reynolds resigned as chief after less than five months in the position, which he took as a replacement for longtime chief Dennis Brown. The Wilton police force consists of six full-time officers, including the chief, and relies on several reserve officers to fill patrol shifts.
During interviews after his resignation, Reynolds said taxpayers raise the issue of disbanding the Police Department every year, making it tough for someone who is worried about job security and supporting a family.
"The biggest factor was my uncertainties about the future of the continuance of this department and, specifically, the police chief position itself," he said of his resignation.
Irish released a statement about the town's decision to appoint Wilcox as the new chief.
"Townspeople can expect honesty and integrity from Ms. Wilcox and she will lead a department that will earn the respect of residents, town officials and other law enforcement agencies and officials," Irish wrote.
David Robinson -- 861-9287