SEABROOK — It’s been his dream since he was a boy, and yesterday Seabrook native Lee Bitomske achieved his goal when he was sworn in as the town’s new police chief.
With his mother, Rita Knowles, and his daughter in the audience, Town Clerk Bonnie Fowler administered the oath of office. When it was over, Knowles helped her son pin on his chief’s shieldand gave him a big hug.
“This is a proud moment for me,” Bitomske said. “It’s what I always wanted since I was so high.”
Bitomske thanked the selectmen for having the confidence in him for make him the town’s permanent chief. He’d held the title of acting police chief since former chief, Patrick Manthorn, fell ill about six months ago.
Selectman Brendan Kelly told Bitomske he was proud to have offered his name in nomination. After getting to know him in the past months, Kelly believes the town got a “good deal” with its new chief.
Selectman Aboul Khan addressed Bitomske’s family legacy of police work by telling the audience that Bitomske’s late stepfather, former Seabrook police Chief Charles Knowles, piqued his stepson’s interest in law enforcement. Knowles, while chief, lost his life in 1973 in a line-of-duty death after answering a call in a domestic violence incident.
Khan became impressed with Bitomske’s performance, he said, because he got out of his office and worked wherever he was needed in the community to meet the needs of the residents.
The town didn’t post ads externally to seek candidates for the job after Manthorn retired. The position was posted internally, according to Interim Town Manager Joe Titone, but no other Seabrook officer sent in a resume.
Born in Seabrook, Bitomske is also the son of the late Bill Bitomske. He attended local schools and has spent 31 years in the department, joining first as a cadet in 1980. He became a full-time officer in ‘86 and remained a patrolman, earning a reputation as an expert marksman, until he got his sergeant’s stripes in 2004. In 2008 he was named lieutenant, became deputy chief shortly after and was appointed interim chief this fall.