By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, October 17, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — Hampton native and longtime officer Rich Sawyer will next month become the first Winnacunnet High School graduate to be named Hampton's chief of police.
Sawyer will be promoted from deputy chief on Nov. 1, taking over for retiring Chief Jamie Sullivan, officials announced Wednesday.
"It's special," said Sawyer, who will become the Hampton Police Department's 24th chief. "I'm thrilled. How many people get the opportunity to lead the police department in their hometown? This is where I'm from, and I get to be the chief of police. That's just an incredible thing not many people get to experience."
Sawyer, who also graduated from Springfield College, has served with the Hampton Police Department for nearly 20 years.
Prior to coming to the department as a patrol officer in March 1995, Sawyer also served as a police officer in Rye and North Hampton.
The Marine Corps veteran is an executive officer of the Seacoast Emergency Response Team and oversees its crisis negotiations team.
Sawyer, who is also a graduate of the 251st session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, said he first got an inkling that Hampton was grooming him for a chief position in 2007.
At that time, now Town Manager Fred Welch indicated to Sawyer that he would be his choice to assume the chief position should it become vacant. Sawyer was honored by that vote of confidence, and he said it spoke highly to HPD's "tradition" of investing great time and effort into developing its officers into strong leaders.
"In a leadership position, you have to develop those people behind you to move up," said Sawyer. "I fully intend to continue that tradition (as chief)."
Welch said Sawyer was selected as chief because he is “highly regarded” in town and “head and shoulders” above most candidates for chief positions.
He also said Sawyer’s experience with and dedication to Hampton will make him a perfect successor to Sullivan.
“He’s deeply invested in the community and the people in it, so I think everybody will have wonderful time with him as chief and I think the protection (for the town) will be very high,” said Welch. “I just think he’s a great police officer, and I’m sure he’ll impress the community and work closely with everybody here to make sure everything is safe and done right.”
Sullivan, a 30-year HPD veteran and its chief since 2006, is retiring to become Hampton’s assistant town manager and human resources coordinator. He announced his retirement Oct. 9 and submitted official notice of his resignation Tuesday.
He will assume his new job Nov. 1. He will collect his police pension while earning an $81,036 salary for 32 hours of work each week in his new position.
Sullivan said he recommended Sawyer as his replacement because Sawyer has served as the department’s second in command “through very difficult and challenging times,” and during those times has “proven himself over and over that he’s up to the task.”
Sullivan said he’s “very excited” for Sawyer and he believes Sawyer will “make an excellent chief of police.”
“I’ve been lucky to have worked with Rich for many, many years,” Sullivan said. “I see him as an outstanding police officer and a person of high character, and I think he’ll be a fantastic leader of the Police Department. I think the community will be lucky to have him.”
In his role as chief, Sawyer will oversee the posting of the deputy police position and the interviews with the various candidates for that job.
Sawyer said he intends to select an internal candidate for the position within his first month as chief.
"I think there are a number of individuals who should get serious consideration for that in this department," Sawyer said. "It's a good feeling to know that I have people to pick from. I don't have to consider going outside. We have our skill sets and leadership positions here."