FAIRHAVEN (WBSM) — A mistake in withdrawing from the civil service system in Fairhaven has led to complications in the town’s hiring of its next police chief as it must now abandon the process it thought it was correctly using.

At the Fairhaven Annual Town Meeting in May 2023, voters opted to withdraw the town’s police and fire departments from the Civil Service system. At the time, the Fairhaven Select Board was under the assumption that it also meant the position of police chief was also removed from Civil Service qualifications.

However, that apparently isn’t the case.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

The Select Board sent out a press release today stating that while “voters overwhelmingly supported withdrawal,” it was not realized until after that the withdrawal didn’t include the chief’s position since it was not able to be reversed in a town meeting format based on how it was originally enacted.

“We placed these questions before town meeting based on the belief that all positions in the police department, including the police chief, came under Civil Service jurisdiction by a vote of town meeting in 1954,” the release states.

“We subsequently learned that the decision to put the police chief under Civil Service was approved at a town election in 1938, meaning it would require putting the question of withdrawal before voters at a town election,” the release continued.

Fairhaven just had its annual town election back on April 1; to vote to make the change, the Town could either wait another year to address the issue, or hold a special election. Both options could prove costly.

READ MORE: Fairhaven Select Board Release on Civil Service

Current Fairhaven Police Chief Michael Myers is set to retire in August 2024, and Fairhaven Town Administrator Angie Lopes Ellison selected Sgt. Daniel Dorgan to replace him back in September 2023.

“As our prior town meeting vote did not effectively remove the position of police chief from Civil Service, the promotional process we used to select the next chief is effectively null and void,” the Select Board said in the release. “The Select Board will be meeting after town meeting to determine the best course of action to replace Chief Myers.”

Fairhaven’s 2024 Annual Town Meeting is slated for May 4 in the Elizabeth Hastings Middle School auditorium.

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

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420