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Orange eyes permanent role for provisional chief

ORANGE — Now that selectmen have appointed Sgt. Craig Lundgren as provisional police chief, they will focus on testing his mettle to see if they can hire him permanently, rather than seek other qualified applicants for the job.

Setting up an exam for Lundgren is one of several options open to the town through the Civil Service hiring process.

Selectmen have unanimously approved the final agreement to hire Lundgren as provisional chief. At a meeting last month, selectmen weighed other Civil Service options for hiring a new chief.

Town Administrator Diana Schindler told selectmen that if they wanted to open the process up to other applicants either from within or outside the Orange Police Department, it would cost the town between $6,700 and $10,000.

In addition, getting the results of either a standard chief’s test or a customized exam of applicants would take a year or more — considerably more time than just testing Lundgren.

“You need to decide among yourselves whether you want me to be your police chief,” Lundgren told board members. “If you do, this is the way to go.”

He said that if he failed the assessment center exam, selectmen “would be back to square one” in terms of looking for new qualified applicants. But he could also stay on as provisional chief for an additional year until they selected a permanent chief.

Residents and officials present at the meeting last month urged selectmen to pursue Lundgren’s candidacy for the permanent position.

“You have a terrific guy here who knows this town and loves this town and has proven himself,” Human Resource Board member Eileen Perkins told selectmen.

Perkins pointed out that when Lundgren was sworn in to his post earlier in the meeting, “his entire crew was here” in a show of support for his hire. “We all know he’s the best thing for this town … I would like to see you act on this tonight and settle it.”

Selectmen unanimously voted to test Lundgren’s ability to meet Civil Service standards for becoming a permanent chief.

That decision allows officials to move forward in hiring a testing contractor to set up an assessment to test Lundgren’s candidacy. The test may involve interview of Lundgren, as well as simulations of duties and problems a chief may encounter on the job.

“I count on passing,” Lundgren assured selectmen.

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