DIGHTON (WBSM) — Amid controversy over the naming of a finalist for police chief, the Town of Dighton is taking a step back and re-examining its hiring process.

Last week, the Dighton Police Officers Local 306 posted to Facebook that it feels “the entire hiring process for Chief of Police has been conducted under a vail (sic) of secrecy.”

The union cited the fact that a finalist had already been named – Fairhaven Police Sergeant Timothy Souza – and that neither interim chief George Nichols or other internal candidates were given a fair shot.

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Selectman Leonard Hull also took issue with the hiring process, saying it “has been flawed from the beginning and has shown a total lack of respect for the Dighton Police Department.”

In a press release today, Board of Selectmen Chairman Peter Caron said they are holding off on interviewing any finalists until they can address the issues residents have with the process used by the hiring committee, which consists of Caron, Town Administrator Michael Mullen, Jr., and Human Resources Coordinator Karin Brady.

“As Town officials, we place great importance in ensuring a fair, transparent, and qualifications-based process for the appointment of Dighton’s next Chief of Police by the Board of Selectmen,” said Dighton Board of Selectmen Chairman Peter Caron. “All residents should have confidence in the hiring process.”

“Based on feedback and questions received by the Town, the Board will be re-evaluating the current process to identify any areas where it may be improved before moving forward,” he said.

Instead of interviewing Sgt. Souza as a finalist during Wednesday’s meeting, the Board of Selectmen will instead have a discussion on the changes to the hiring process.

“This week’s Board of Selectmen agenda will include proposed updates to the hiring process for the Selectmen to begin considering and will no longer include the interview of any finalist police chief candidate,” Caron said.

The department is in need of a new chief following the resignation of former chief Shawn Cronin, after Cronin was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading last year. George Nichols was appointed Acting Chief in his place.

In its release, the Town of Dighton stated that Souza’s selection as finalist followed “an extensive professional hiring process approved by the Board of Selectmen in late November 2023 that included an independent assessment center, a preliminary interview, and the submission of written responses to more than a dozen essay questions.”

The Town also said there were a total of 20 applicants for the position.

Crime Rate Statistics in SouthCoast Towns

Here are the crime rate statistics for SouthCoast communities, utilizing data from 2022, the most recent year available. Annual data is from the Massachusetts Crime Statistics. The number of crimes is a data collection of total arrests, DUI/OUI charges, violent crimes, and hate crimes. The clearance rate is the number of charged crimes divided by the total number of crimes recorded. We listed the SouthCoast towns alphabetically.

Gallery Credit: Ariel Dorsey

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Gallery Credit: Ariel Dorsey

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