By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, November 18, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON —- Police Chief Bill Wrenn has been nominated to run the state's prisons as commissioner of the state Corrections Department, but opposition has already been raised.
Gov. John Lynch nominated Wrenn to replace current Commissioner Stephen Curry at Wednesday's Executive Council meeting.
However, Executive Council member Ruth Griffin of Portsmouth has gone on record that she will vote against Wrenn.
Griffin said while she considers Wrenn a friend she thinks Curry is doing a commendable job in the position.
For his part, Wrenn said he was honored to be nominated and looks forward to working with the Executive Council through the confirmation process in the upcoming weeks.
If his nomination is accepted, Wrenn said he will take the job and leave his post in Hampton, which he has held since 1995.
"I have over 20 years of management experience at the police station, starting as a deputy chief in 1985," said Wrenn. "I have developed the skills, management tools that I could utilize in corrections."
Curry, who has held the post for the last 16 months, was appointed by former Gov. Craig Benson.
He has said he wants to stay on and that he's being replaced for political reasons and pressures from the state workers union, which has been critical of his performance.
Justin Jardine, a correctional officer and president of the SEA Chapter 24, said the prospect of Curry leaving has given workers hope.
"Public safety has been jeopardized by Commissioner Curry's management style," said Jardine. "With morale in the correctional system at an all-time low, his approach interferes with the ability of an understaffed work force to provide basic and essential services."
The union plans to meet with Wrenn before making its recommendation to the Executive Council on whether to confirm him.
Lynch called Wrenn a proven manager, with 30 years of law enforcement experience in New Hampshire and deep knowledge of public policy in the state.
"Chief Wrenn has the knowledge and proven ability to work with me, the Legislature and the Corrections (Department) employees to develop a long-term vision for our Corrections Department that focuses on keeping our citizens safe and reducing crime," Lynch said in a statement.
Wrenn joined the Hampton Police Department in 1974 and worked his way up to chief .
Wrenn is the current legislative committee chairman of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and recently worked closely with Lynch and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to develop the Child Protection Act, which calls for more prison time against sexual predators.
[Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.]