RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday night against hiring Police Chief Stacy Carter’s son as a reserve officer because of the town’s nepotism policy.

Carter said his department has two vacancies, and another officer out for six weeks with an injury.

Saying he knew about the nepotism policy, but without other applicants, he asked the board to consider hiring his son, Justin Carter, as a part-time reserve officer temporarily to help reduce overtime costs.

Justin Carter, who is academy trained, works part time for the Mexico Police Department. The chief said Justin has applied to other towns for a full-time position.

In 2010, selectmen adopted a nepotism policy that prohibits immediate family members of any department head from being hired in his or her department.

Selectman Mark Belanger, who was on the board when the nepotism policy was adopted, told Carter, “I’m very disappointed that you would even bring that to us and put us in this position, because this policy is very clear.”

Town Manager John Madigan said the nepotism policy says “should,” which makes it flexible.

“It’s up to you to decide,” Madigan said. “We can’t decide it because it’s a Board of Selectmen’s policy. It’s difficult to find police officers. Very difficult. This is a very well-qualified officer already trained and we’re only talking about a part-time, short-term situation. To me, this is a very proper request.”

Selectman Jim Windover said, “I agree with Mark. If we make a change of this, they’re probably going to hang us for it.”

Board Chairman Jeff Sterling said, “I want to support this in the worst way, but I can’t, because not what happens this time, but what happens the next time, and the next time.”

Selectman Peter Chase commended the chief. “He’s trying to be fiscally responsible as best he can by doing this. I know it wasn’t easy for him,” Chase said.

Selectman Chris Brennick said, “The bigger issue for me is the lack of officers with us being down, and the strain on the existing force.”

In the end, Belanger, Windover and Sterling voted not to act on the request.

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