Select board chair: Webster police chief on administrative leave

  • Webster resident Henry Bouchard chats with the town's new police chief, Ben Liberatore.

Monitor staff
Saturday, October 07, 2017

Webster police Chief Benedict Liberatore is on administrative leave, according to a statement provided by select board chairman Bruce Johnson.

Johnson said Liberatore was put on leave in order to “concentrate all of his efforts to securing Police Standards and Training Certification.”

Liberatore was put on administrative leave a week and half ago, Johnson said. He declined to say when he expected the chief to return or whether Liberatore is being paid while he completes his training.

“I can not answer whether the chief is being paid or not,” Johnson wrote in an email Friday night. “I know that sounds elusive, but again, the Select Board is not releasing any further information at this time.”

Liberatore, a former Connecticut state police officer, started at the Webster Police Department in October 2016.

His tenure in town has been rocky. During a July select board meeting, Liberatore read a statement which said that the board had been “micromanaging, scrutinizing, singling out and trying to run the police department,” since his first day on the job. He complained he had endured “repeated harassment, defamation of character,” that had caused a “hostile work environment” that made it impossible for him to perform his duties. Johnson at the time declined to comment on Liberatore’s complaints.

Liberatore’s employment agreement states that he must complete the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training certification within six months – “failing which (his contact) is null and void.”

He received two extensions from the Council to complete his certification. According to council minutes, his most extension expires Dec. 15.

The process of hiring someone to lead the department after former chief Robert Dupuis left Webster in February 2016 was not easy. The town struggled for a while to attract enough applicants before finally hiring Liberatore.

Writing to Webster residents at the time to announce Liberatore’s hire in August 2016, Johnson wrote that Liberatore was “willing to be a long-term solution. Willing to put 10 years into this.”

Johnson said the town’s only other full-time officer, Phil Mitchell, will lead the department while Liberatore is away.

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