Webster taps new police chief after former chief drops suit against town

  • The Webster Safety Building is shown. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Less than a month after Webster’s former police chief dropped his lawsuit against the town, officials are ready to hire a new one.

Select board Chairman Bruce Johnson said the town has offered the job to Steve Adams, a retired police chief from Northfield.

“He is well-known and well-liked and comes highly recommended,” Johnson said.

Adams was interviewed and supported by a review board that included several law enforcement officials and a Webster resident, Johnson said. His contract stipulates that he will work part time, but his exact salary was not disclosed.

Webster’s former police chief, Benedict Liberatore, was making more than $60,000 a year working full time.

The Webster police department has been in limbo since Liberatore filed a lawsuit against the town in November claiming the select board tried to force him to resign by placing him on unpaid administrative leave.

Liberatore was placed on leave Sept. 27 after working with the town for less than one year. The select board said that Liberatore, a retired Connecticut state trooper, failed to follow several stipulations of his October 2016 conditional hiring agreement, one of which was that he obtain his New Hampshire Police Standards and Training certification.

Without the Standards and Training certification, Liberatore would not be informed in New Hampshire law or be qualified to work patrol shifts by himself, according to the Police Standards and Training office.

Liberatore’s contract stipulated that he complete the training within six months of starting his position in Webster. Liberatore was placed on administrative leave 11 months into his employment, still not having obtained the certification.

The select board also said that Liberatore violated a number of other town policies, including not establishing residence within Webster and not following a work-hours policy only one on-duty officer be scheduled at a time to maximize coverage.

Liberatore’s lawyers decided to withdraw their lawsuit against the town in early February, shortly after Judge John Kissinger denied Liberatore’s request to return to work while the case was in court, Webster’s attorney Barton Mayer said.

“We can only guess that he decided that it wouldn’t be worth the investment to continue on in the process,” Mayer said.

Adams, who retired from Northfield in 2013, is paid an annual pension of $31,143.72 from the New Hampshire Retirement System, according to state records.

Adams will begin in Webster as soon as his background check is completed. He is certified with N.H. Police Standards and Training, Johnson said.

“The select board has a town to run,” Mayer said. “They’re moving forward.”

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)