By Katina Caraganis
ASHBY -- The Board of Selectmen appointed Lt. Fred Alden as acting police chief effective Dec. 18 after current Chief Edward Drew submitted his letter of resignation, effective Dec. 17.
Town Administrator Bob Hanson, who was not at the Dec. 11 selectmen's meeting, is putting together a draft contract agreement between the town and Alden.
The selectmen will meet with Alden in executive session to hash out the details of the contract.
Drew said while recommending Alden for the position he believes Alden is capable of running the department and applauded his "personal character" and "natural ability."
"From my point of view, he would be a good addition," Drew said. "He has roots here. He will do the best for the town and he will do things to bring the Police Department and town forward in everything he does."
Chairwoman Janet Flinkstrom said she agreed with Drew's recommendation.
"I'm sorry to see you go. You've done an extraordinary job. We take your recommendation seriously. I believe Fred is the best choice," she said.
Selectman Steve Ingerson said he would support the decision in the interim phase, but questioned whether Alden would be the best choice going forward because he does not have a college degree and has not had much hands on experience in a management position.
Alden is a graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School and has taken classes at Western New England University and is halfway done completing an associate's degree.
He completed the civilian's academy, the reserve police officer's academy and the full-time officer's police academy. He has worked for the town since he completed the academy in 1999.
Drew said Alden has been taking management classes since Drew decided he was going to be leaving, and he has three years in a supervisor's position between his time as sergeant and his recent promotion to lieutenant.
Drew said he Alden often goes above and beyond to get things accomplished. Alden has been recognized as a top police prosecutor at Middlesex Academy and constantly engages in professional development opportunities to further his career.
"Sometimes experience offsets formal education," Drew said.
Other police departments often give officers financial incentives to complete their degrees, but because Ashby has such a small budget, it's not something that makes financial sense to do, Drew said.
"That financial incentive offsets the need to take on overtime or details to put bread on the table for your family," he said. "Sometimes you have to look at educational experiences this person has, not just in a college setting."
Alden said he has some concerns he would like to work out during negotiations, but declined to elaborate after Wednesday's meeting.
Drew has been working for the town since 2009 and is a retired Waltham police chief. He spent 35 years in Waltham and because he is retired and collects more than $9,000 a month from his pension, he is limited to working no more than 960 hours in Ashby.
His position was an interim one in the beginning and he expected to be in town for approximately five months while a search was conducted for his permanent replacement.
In 2011, he accepted a more official part-time contract with the town. On average, he makes $40,000 a year in Ashby, working two days a week.
The town has approximately $70,000 budgeted for a full-time chief if they opt to go in that direction down the line.
Under his most recent contract, Drew's per-diem rate per week is $572, or $79.57 an hour, whichever is less.
He would also get compensated at the hourly rate if he is called into work beyond the part-time hours he puts in every week, and is compensated for any mileage he puts on his personal vehicle for job-related functions.
Drew's one-year contract went into effect at the end of Feb. 2013.
He said Wednesday night his decision to resign now gives him more opportunities in other areas.
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