FARMINGTON — Selectmen unanimously approved the promotion of Lt. Jack Peck to the position of chief of the Farmington Police Department on Tuesday.
While the department and town continue to mourn the loss of Richard Caton, the town must move on, Town Manager Richard Davis told the board while proposing that the board authorize Peck’s promotion.
Davis said in a memo to the board that Peck is the “best-qualified and would have the immediate support, respect and strong working relationships with members of the Police Department, other department heads, municipal employees and the public.”
Peck who has worked for the department for the past 20 years, has been second in command and filled in while Caton was on medical leave this year.
The immediate promotion from within would save the town the expense of advertising the chief’s position and undergoing a lengthy recruitment process, he said. An outside candidate would not have the repoire that Peck has with the department, he added.
Davis advised starting Peck’s salary as chief at $58,500 with a monthly vehicle stipend of $174. Peck’s salary was increased $100 a week during this period of acting or interim chief, bringing his salary up to $56,434, Davis said. Caton’s salary was $61,306 after 12 years as chief. Davis suggested Peck’s salary “pays respect to the late chief while providing a reasonable level of compensation to the new chief, given the responsibility” of the position.
“I have found Peck to be highly professional, well respected and highly qualified. He has performed admirably in my opinion,” Davis said of the work done by Peck while Caton was on medical leave.
Peck, who said he was ready to take on the position, said Caton believed in promoting from within. Board members agreed.
“I agree with promoting Jack, 110 percent,” said Selectman Drew Hufnagel, who worked as an officer with Caton and Peck. “He has the respect of his officers, other law enforcement and the community. Dick would want to see Jack take his place.”
Caton was grooming a candidate from within to step up either for the short term or a prolonged term, Board Chair Stephan Bunker said of Peck’s promotion.
Selectman Nancy Porter thanked Peck “for stepping up to the plate and getting us through a very rough time.”
When asked to submit his thoughts and goals about the department to selectmen at a later date, Peck gave a brief account of his views stating that “the safety of my officers and the citizens is paramount.”
He would also like to see the “Richard Caton III public safety building” moved forward as well as more promotions from within, he said. He also said he would like to finish the last four courses needed for his bachelor's degree.