BY JENNIFER SOLIS
---- — WEST NEWBURY — West Newbury has hired its second full-time female police officer. At the recommendation of police Chief Lisa Holmes, the Board of Selectmen chose Danielle Burrill on Monday night to fill a new position on the force.
At the same meeting the board assigned several other public safety employees to new positions under Holmes’ recommendation.
Last April, Annual Town Meeting voters approved one additional officer for the police department, an accomplishment Holmes has been working toward for years.
Burrill was selected over two other reserve officers after an oral board interview process that police officials from departments in other towns conducted with the three in-house candidates.
Holmes chose this approach because the interviewers had “no direct ties to this department, they do not know any officers, and they had no knowledge of any of the candidates.”
Burrill, along with fellow candidates Rich Parenteau and Sean O’Keefe, was asked for impromptu responses to a variety of hypothetical scenarios as a way to judge how well she communicated and her knowledge of the job, departmental policies and procedures and state laws.
Holmes said Burrill’s prior law enforcement experience, communication skills and composure in fielding the questions “considerably out-shined the other two candidates.”
Since 2003, Burrill has worked as a public safety dispatcher and a reserve patrolman in West Newbury. She was also employed in a similar public safety capacity in Groveland from 2004-2008. As a reserve officer working solo on the overnight shift, Burrill “pretty much outdid her male counterparts in terms of her performance,” said Holmes.
Burrill, whose maiden name is Connolly, grew up in town and is well-known, according to Holmes. She worked at the West Newbury Foodmart during her high school years before graduating from Pentucket High School in 2002. In 2005 she graduated from the Reading Police Academy and went on to earn an associate degree in criminal justice administration from Northern Essex Community College in 2011.
Selectman Glenn Kemper said he was glad to see another woman hired full-time on the force. “Especially with the community ties she has, that makes me happy,” he said. Following her unanimous appointment, Burrill received a spontaneous round of applause from the audience.
Selectmen also appointed Parenteau as the new lead dispatcher to fill a position left vacant by the recent resignation of long-time dispatcher Lee Ann Delp. Holmes called Parenteau, who has worked in the dispatcher’s department since 2009, “an outstanding candidate” who “wasn’t even finished with his own training when we had him training other people.” As time went on he “took on more and more of a role in dispatch” where he assisted Delp with many of her job duties and functions.
After removing her from both the dispatch roster and as head of the town’s Emergency Management Agency at their last meeting, selectmen agreed this week to reappoint Delp as a part-time dispatcher and to reinstate her as director of EMA. Selectmen Kemper and Joe Anderson continued to voice some reservations about whether Delp would be able to effectively manage the time needed to meet the responsibilities of EMA director in West Newbury now that she has taken a full-time position at the Regional Dispatch Center in Middleton.
But Delp noted that the previous EMA director and the two deputy EMA directors were all appointed despite holding other full-time jobs. The board agreed to reappoint her for the year and see how it goes.
They then appointed Steve Alvino, who had applied for Delp’s position at EMA, as a third deputy director.
In her final hiring recommendation for the night, Holmes proposed appointing Keenan Leonard-Solis to fill one of the two full-time vacancies in the dispatch department left by the departures of Burrill and Delp. A 2008 Pentucket alumnus, Leonard-Solis earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Swarthmore College in 2012. Since joining the department on a part-time basis in 2009, he has “matured and excelled with the position to become an extraordinary dispatcher,” Holmes said. The board unanimously approved the full-time appointment.