Hudson’s Police Chief Gendron Retires and ‘Goes Home’ after 30 Years of Service
by Doug Robinson
Chief Richard Gendron, right, congratulating Captain Jason Lavoie as he assumes his new role as Chief of Police
Chief Richard Gendron retired as Hudson’s highest legal officer on 12/31/08. As a Hudson Police Officer, he has served the Hudson community for over 30 years. His entire professional career has been spent as a Hudson Police officer. For three decades, he has served the Hudson residents 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. He has supported, promoted, and protected Hudson residents on a local level, state level, and national level. He has created partnerships with state legislators, state senators, and governors, in efforts to stop illegal drugs from entering Hudson, prevent sex offenders from violating the rights and privacies of our community, eliminate impaired motorists from our roads, and provide a safe and secure community. He has done all this while displaying the values of courage, compassion, and commitment. He has also spent more than half of his life serving others. While individual legacies are written by those left behind, Chief Gendron dedicated his professional life to training, promoting change, and becoming personally involved with the successes of those with whom he supervised. On December 31, 2008, Chief Richard Gendron, hung up his holster, took the bullets out of his gun, and walked away from his first love of life, law enforcement, to embrace his biggest love in life, family.
“I always had a dream and a passion to be a police officer,” began Chief Gendron. “I grew up in Nashua, right next door to a police chief. His name was Tracy- Dick Tracy.” He paused, and then he grinned and said, “I’m kidding, his name was Tracy, but not Dick. He was just chief to me. I knew in high school that I wanted to be a police officer and my feelings to become a police officer remained throughout my St. Anselm’s College education.”
Chief Gendron joined the Hudson Police Department as a part time employee, while he worked his full time job at Alexander’s Supermarket. “In police work, there is something different all the time,” commented the Chief. “When I came to here this department in 1978, I realized that the Hudson Police Department had a lot of problems. I could see from my position, that for me to improve I needed training, and I was not receiving training. Charlie Foster was the Chief at the time, and before I became chief, I worked for four different Police Chiefs in Hudson. I also saw that the officers did not have safe equipment, which could save their lives in the streets. Much of the equipment was outdated and broken. The police department did not participate in Community Policing and the relationship between the Police Department and the residents was strained at best.”
Selectman Shawn Jasper stated that when Chief Gendron began his career with the Hudson Police Department, they were referred to as the “Keystone Cops.” Chief Gendron stated that, back then, we were “labeled ….the worse police department…in New Hampshire.”
“People like to credit me with the level of professionalism and expertise which the Hudson Police Department displays today. It is not about me. The success of this department goes back to the Board of Selectmen who controls the purse strings. To run a great police department costs a lot of money. Without the support of all the Boards of Selectmen, we would not have had the tools to do what we do.”
“Secondly, the credit must go to the people who worked in the Police Department. If they did not want change to occur, and make the conscious decision to partner with me, then the Hudson Police Department would not have changed. We would not have upgraded our equipment, our materials, or our training. They embraced change, they embraced the new ideas, and they helped formulate the philosophies of today’s Hudson Police Department.”
In 1990, Captain Gendron was promoted to his current position as Chief of Police having been a police officer for only 11 years. “I am told that I was the youngest Chief of Police ever appointed in the State of New Hampshire. Again, I am thankful to the Selectman who appointed me, and the Board of Selectman who supported me.
After Chief Gendron assumed his new responsibilities, he was asked by the Board of Selectman for his vision, his goals, and his needs from the Town of Hudson. “I will never forget that first meeting with the Board. We went into Non-Public so that we could discuss the Police Department needs. I told the Board that you get what you pay for and that law enforcement is not cheap. I worked 6 years on patrol, worked closely with administration and I told the Selectmen that our department needed equipment, training, and to achieve the respect of the community. For us to earn that respect, we as a department had to change, and that change would affect every facet of our organization financially and operationally. The Selectmen voted unanimously to support the changes which needed to take place.”
“The first thing which needed to be accomplished was to educate the Selectman so that we could receive continued support. Through this education we, together, with our staff designed a police department for the future. And yes, some people were unhappy, but those who wanted change outnumbered those who did not want change. We were tired of being knocked down. I could see good people with great potential and many of them are with me today. We worked together for the common cause. We worked to create a great police department.”
Chief Gendron continued, “I looked at the organization and I found people who could lead. If I could develop them, then they would be an asset. But first, I had to be trained and this is where the Selectmen supported me. They sent me to FBI school, and many other schools to improve my skills as a leader and as a police officer. The Town invested in me so that I could invest in my Department. Our first step was to put together a plan for a new facility, and the voters supported us in the voting booth. This new facility was our first step. It gave us a sense of respect from the community.”
Once the building was built, Chief Gendron invested most of his budget into training and development of his staff. He sent out surveys to the community to assist his team with the development of their ongoing changes within the Department. Community Policing, partnerships with AARP for safe driving courses, partnerships with the Red Cross for Blood Drives, Animal Control, Witness Advocate Programs, Explorer programs for the youth, Citizen Police Academy, Good Morning Hudson Seniors, Neighborhood Watch, Night Eyes, Old Home Days, Police Station Tours, Ride Along Programs, Child Safety Seat Inspection Station, Special Olympics, Trading Cards, Vial of Life, Rape Aggression Defense Systems, Student Job Shadow Program, C.H.I.P.S, D.A.R.E, Fright Night, School Resource Officer, Directed Patrols, Honor Guard, K-9 Division, Motorcycle Unit, Mountain Bike Patrol, Safe Houses, Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Vehicle Lock-Out program list only a few of the programs designed and embraced by the officers of the Hudson Police Department as change took place. Many of the officers of the Hudson Police Department volunteer their time to make these programs the successes they are for the community of Hudson.
A vision statement was then created by a team of Police professionals within the Hudson Police Department, and it reads, “The Hudson Police Department strongly embraces the philosophy of Community Policing in all its daily operations and functions. Community policing is based upon a partnership between the police and the community whereby the police and the community share responsibility for identifying, reducing, eliminating and preventing problems that impact community safety. By working together, the police and the community can reduce the incidence of crime and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.
“In this effort, the community of Hudson and the Police work as partners to identify and prioritize problems of crime, and share the responsibility for the development and implementation of proactive problem-solving strategies to address identified issues. The strategies used prove success because they mobilize the efforts and resources of the police, the community and local government.”
As a result of Chief Gendron’s involvement with State Legislators, New Hampshire has the toughest laws for the sexual predator. He has worked closely with Governor Lynch and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte on writing the laws which protect our community. Unknown to many, Chief Gendron was involved in a head-on collision at an early age in life. He was hit head-on by a drunk driver. He has personally witnessed the tragedies of those who have been stricken by a drunken driver. “I believe that the more you teach and the more you show people the whys behind what you do, than understanding becomes greater and the opportunity to work better increases,” stated the Chief. “When I first started the Citizen’s Police Academy, Police Chiefs from other communities thought I was nuts. While other police departments in other communities hide from their community their ‘secrets”, I feel differently. Bottom line is that without the support both financially and understanding, we would not be able to provide any services for our residents. We would revert to the times when police officers were not trained, had the proper equipment, and had poor relationships with the residents.”
The State of New Hampshire has over 240 law enforcement agencies which protect the residents of New Hampshire. Of the 240 agencies, only seven are Nationally Accredited. “As a Nationally Accredited Department, we have accepted a way of life for doing our business. And that way of doing business, is Nationally Recognized as being what is right for the people. We receive the benefits of lower insurance premiums, higher success rates in the courts, and knowing that what we do and how we do it impacts peoples lives properly and professionally. I am very proud of this department for their very hard work over the years to become accredited.”
“Am I going to miss this? Yes,” comments Chief Gendron. “I am going to miss police work. I love being a cop. Once you put the badge on, you never take it off. I have a lot of respect for those in law enforcement. I will miss the people here, especially Dorothy. She has been by my side for over 20 years. She knows me better than I know me. She is a wonderful person whom I have grown to be very fond. She is my safety net and such a good person.”
“I interview every officer personally before we hire them. I ask every officer what is important to them most. They usually say, ‘helping people,’ or they may say ‘family.’ If they say family, I ask ‘how so.’ Most of the applicants just look at me at this point in time. I have missed a lot of soccer games, a lot of high school basketball games, a lot of birthday parties, and a lot of family. To me, now, my family is the most important thing to me, and I am going to go home. I am walking away from law enforcement. While the future remains a mystery to me, I do know that I will be home nights, weekends, and snowstorms. I have two children and a beautiful wife, Lynn, with whom I choose to be with at this point in my life. I am very grateful, as I have had many blessings throughout life.”
It is written somewhere that sometimes the job makes the man and other times the man makes the job. Chief Gendron spoke continually of the people who made him the man that he is and his appreciation to those with whom he surrounded himself daily. “I will miss them,” stated Chief Richard Gendron.
Writer’s comments: For the past four years, I have had the personal privilege and honor of covering the news activities for the Hudson Police Department. Chief Gendron has afforded this writer the utmost courtesy and professional experiences a writer could ever ask. Over the years of working “behind the walls” of the Hudson Police Department, I am very grateful to Chief Gendron for speaking with me about his many dedicated years on the Hudson Police Department. Chief Gendron, for months, requested not to be interviewed and we respected his request. He has refused interviews from all news agencies. Then, with two days remaining until he formally retired, he and I met and I approached him one last time. This time, he agreed. He and I sat behind closed doors in the conference room of the Hudson Police Department for three hours undisturbed. While much of what he said will remain within the privacy of our friendship, I can tell you he spoke of his youth, his life as a police office, his family, his sacrifices, and his love of those who work for him and with him. It is written somewhere that sometimes the job makes the man and other times the man makes the job. Chief Gendron spoke continually of the people who made him the man that he is and his appreciation to those with whom he surrounded himself daily.
Heated Disagreement Over Empty Position
by Lynne Ober
Litchfield Selectmen had a very heated discussion about filling the empty Selectmen’s Assistant position. As the discussion evolved, it became clear that Chairman Frank Byron was very much in favor of changing the job title, had written a new job description using a new job title, and had distributed that document via e-mail to selectmen.
Selectman Al Raccio believed that changing the job title from Administrative Assistant to something else needed to go through town counsel. Raccio argued that the position had been changed so much that it was virtually a new position that had not received voter approval.
Raccio had pulled the nine-page job description, scanned it, and e-mailed all nine pages to the board prior to the meeting.
Selectman George Lambert characterized the current nine-page job description as a set of tasks and not a real job description. During the meeting, he reported that he googled other municipalities and the longest job description for a similar position was four pages long.
After discussion, selectmen agreed that the position would require a ‘college degree’ in accounting and a number of years of supervisory experience. There was also conversation that using a job title of Administrative Assistant did not reflect the level of work or experience required for the job and that changing the job title to be more reflective of needed experience and educational levels would help when the job was advertised.
During the discussion, it was suggested that the job title be changed to Office Manager because that was more indicative of the actual job and the job that had been performed by their previous assistant. Although Selectmen Pat Jewett and Al Raccio spoke against this change, the motion passed with four affirming votes. Only Raccio voted against the change and said his vote was based on the fact that he felt that this was a new, non-voter sanctioned job and he wanted a legal opinion before voting.
After the vote Raccio started to ask Jewett why she spoke against the change and then voted for it, but interrupted himself and noted there wasn’t a motion currently on the table.
Selectmen then continued to discuss the job description and posting the job.
During this discussion, Jewett announced that she would not support changing the position title. Leading Selectman Andrew Santom to state, “You just did, Pat.”
Santom then moved to adopt the job description written by Byron as the new Office Manager job description. That vote passed 4–1 with Raccio voting no.
After the vote Raccio asked for clarification of the motion and noted that Byron had given his job description a different title. When Raccio wondered if selectmen had just re-named the job again, Santom explained that rather than adopting the job description with the title recommended by Bryon that he had moved to adopt it as the new job description for the Office Manager job. “I used the new title and did not use Byron’s suggested title.” Santom explained that the board, by approving his motion, had adopted a job description to go along with the recently adopted job title.
After discussing the application closing date, which was set so that the new board, elected in March, will do the interviews, selectmen discussed where the job would be advertised.
Before the subject was closed, Raccio moved to send the new job description and job title to town counsel to ascertain whether selectmen’s actions had been legal or not. His motion died for a lack of a second.
Unpaid Taxes Plague Litchfield
by Lynne Ober
According to Litchfield Tax Collector Theresa Briand, as of December 8, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., the amount of money owed to the town was $910,294.72, and out of that amount there is $625,158.66 currently owed from this December’s tax bill. Notices were sent out on December 15 to those in arrear for taxes prior to the current cycle. The next step is that in thirty (30) days people in arrears may have liens put on their property for the $300,000 that is overdue and outstanding.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Frank Byron told the board that there are liens assessed against all balances due except the ones that are due for December and the Town is obligated to go through a certain procedure which is notification of nonpayment then notification that a lien will be placed on the property.
Selectman Al Raccio asked how many properties are eligible for tax sale and noted that he’d like to be kept abreast of properties in this status. The Board discussed about whether to print the list of lien properties in the Annual Report or whether not to print such a list. Selectman Pat Jewett stated that she was not in favor of printing such a list and discussed the effect that the economy is having on people and how people are struggling. Selectman George Lambert was in sympathy, but noted that some people feel if they have to pay their taxes on time, then everybody should pay their taxes on time. Lambert noted that unpaid taxes are a concern because of the extra burden that it places on the town.
“There are two things people should be aware of: The 1 million represents on an annual basis, half the amount of money that the town government, not the school, collects in the form of taxes each year that we need to support the town organization,” said Chairman Frank Byron. “Our budget is 4 million dollars and of the 4 million, 2 million is collected in terms of taxes paid by the citizens. If we are missing 1 million dollars, that is about half of what it takes to run the town government. Secondarily, if people are in a situation where they cannot afford to pay their taxes and are interested in working with the Board of Selectmen to do something to keep their taxes coming into the town to pay their fair share, then the BOS is willing to consider some of that and we can set up a plan to help the people try to accomplish that. So, it is a matter of those people coming forward and asking the Board for some time and some assistance and we can try and make that work.”
Raccio stated, “Additionally, the delinquent taxes not only from the December period but the period prior to that, the tax base for the Town still pays the school irregardless of whether the entire tax burden is paid or not.” Raccio pointed out that even when taxpayers are in default, that it is only the town budget that is negatively affected. He noted that the school district draws all of their money whether taxpayers have paid or not. “ My concern as we go through the next couple of years of an uncertain economy, that our coffers are going to come to the point where they will be depleted. My concern again is what do we do now and what actions can we take at the State level to adjust for those insufficient funds collected so that the Town does not be forced to go to default budget or forced to take extension loans at the cost of the taxpayers knowing that we are already in a default position before we ever even start the ‘09 budget season.”
Byron assured the board that every step that could legally be taken was being taken.
“Do we increase taxes?” asked Raccio. “Right now we have a $300,000 problem that is going to get carried over if it is not resolved in the next 12 to 14 days into our next year books. Do we amend the budget on the floor to account for that $300,000 shortfall to be able to balance the budget for the 2008 season and the money that we have asked for, not even accounting for the $625,000 plus or minus that we are in default right now?”
Byron questioned Raccio and asked for a plan. “What could you do with the budget that would change the amount of money you are collecting in taxes?”
Raccio responded, “If the $300,000 is not recovered in delinquent taxes from anything prior to the December 1st number that you came in with, would assume we already paid that money out of the General Fund. That money has been depleted by the General Fund either through the surplus in the fund of the highway block grant or any other moneys that are accumulating until properly expended. We will enter ‘09 shortly, the budget for ‘09 which means we are going to carry that deficit forward. How do we recover the $300,000 is my question to balance what has already been paid out?”
After discussion between Byron and Raccio, Raccio stated, “You can cut your budget. That certainly is an option. You can raise and appropriate taxes $300,000 over and spread the tax loss across the Town.”
However, Byron disagreed with that statement because the tax rate had been set.
At that point Lambert suggested a possible future fix. “We have to fix it with an overlay the next time we set the tax rate.”
However, Byron said that had been done. “We added $100,000 in overlay. We also reduced the amount of moneys that we would collect as an estimate on the MS4, which would contain the overlay as well, based upon the idea that we thought we were going to end up recovering less money in the form of income to the Town. “
Lambert then stated, “We have cushioned the amount we are taxing the overall population under the assumption that we need an additional cushion to make sure we have the cash flow to provide the services in the budget. “
But Raccio asked about the process. “Is this delayed process really just defers incremental taxation hoping for a balance?”
After Byron told him that it was the only thing that could be done, Raccio asked about the cost of a tax anticipation note and was told that the cost would be “give or take 5 percent.”
However, Lambert pointed out that there was a possibility the Town would not even get a note from the bank with the way the economy is right now.
Given this situation, budgets remain frozen and selectmen continue to work with department heads on expenditures as well as future budgets.
Ryan Teague’s Eagle Scout Project
Ryan Teague stands in front of part of the bullpen
There may be snow on the ground, but baseball season is just a few months away, and the players of Hudson Youth Baseball (HYB) will be using a brand new pitching bullpen at Lion’s Field on Water Street this spring, thanks to Ryan Teague, a Life Scout in Troop 252 at St. Kathryn Church in Hudson. Ryan, 15, organized the construction of the bullpen over the past several months for his Eagle Project.
The bullpen will provide a safe place for pitchers to warm up prior to entering the game, while protecting fans from being hit with errant throws as the pitchers warm up. Pitchers and catchers previously had to warm up either behind the backstop, where there wasn’t the required distance to adequately pitch, or along the bleachers, which led to a potentially unsafe situation for both the players warming up and for those watching the game. The players warming up next to the bleachers were exposed to foul balls and the fans were subjected to the occasional stray throw.
Ryan’s Eagle Project took over six months and more than 2,000 man-hours to complete. Ryan presented his idea to members of HYB, the Hudson Lion’s Club (property owners of the field), and the local Boy Scout District Eagle Project Review Board for approval last spring. He then planned the project, raised the necessary funding, and organized the labor required to build the bullpen. Construction began in early summer with the clearing of land beyond the outfield fence and the installation of two pitching mounds, pitching plates, and home plates. The bullpen was then enclosed within a six-foot high chain-link fence and was ready for use in late June, in time for the Cal Ripken U12 District Playoffs. The overall project was completed this fall with the addition of a picnic area and a stone pathway leading to the new bullpen. Although the labor was done, Ryan then had to present a final report of his project to Hudson Youth Baseball, the Kiwanis Club, and the Lion’s Club. He provided his report at the HYB Annual Meeting on October 29, to the Kiwanis Club the first week of November, and is scheduled to present to the Lion’s Club at their annual meeting on February 9.
Many volunteers from the troop, HYB, and the community helped Ryan in completing this project. They helped remove brush, take down trees, prepare the ground, and install the pitching mounds. Over 50 tons of earth materials, including crushed stone base, three-quarter-inch stone, and baseball infield mix, were required. Brox industries, a long-time HYB sponsor, provided a generous discount on the earth materials, and Hudson resident Mike Babin donated the trucking services to move the materials from Brox industries to Lion’s Field. Ryan also received a discount on the fencing from the Londonderry Home Depot, and strong financial backing from both the Hudson Kiwanis and Lion’s Clubs. John Doyle, Ted Luzsey, and Phil Garside, past president of HYB, provided equipment services to help clear the land and move material. Don Berry, a fellow Scouter and member of HYB, was instrumental with the fence installation.
The purpose of an Eagle Project is for the scout to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to the scout’s religious institution, school, or community. The project should benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America. Ryan was inspired to work on a baseball-related Eagle Project after helping his friend Matt Emanuelson, a Troop 252 Eagle Scout, build dugouts at the Greeley Street baseball field a few years ago. Ryan liked the idea of combining scouting and baseball, two activities that he has been involved with for several years. Ryan has been in Scouting since 2000 and has played on several Hudson Youth Baseball and travel teams. He played last year for the Alvirne Junior Varsity baseball team and for the AAU U15 Hudson Hawks.
New picnic area
Grant Received for Ottarnic Pond Chemical Treatment
by Gina M. Votour
A grant of $13,000 was recently made to Hudson’s Conservation Commission from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) for the Ottarnic Pond Chemical Treatment Program.
The grant will partially cover the total cost of what will be, according to DES, an “aquatic herbicide application to control growths of variable milfoil and fanwort in Ottarnic Pond.”
Milfoil and fanwort are invasive aquatic plants, both of which have resided within Ottarnic Pond and are well known for their ability to reduce the growth of plants native to an area. Back in 2005, sections of the pond were quite successfully treated to control a milfoil species. However, this treatment did not target fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) and this species has now spread heavily throughout most of the pond’s 34-acre surface.
Aquatic Control Technology, Inc. of Sutton, MA was chosen by Hudson’s Conservation Commission to perform the herbicide application. The treatment would involve the application of Sonar, whose active ingredient is called fluridone. Aquatic Control Technology defines fluridone as a “systemic-acting herbicide that kills the entire plant including the root structures” and usually provides effective growth control for several seasons.
Time-release pellet forms of Sonar will be applied on three separate instances within two to three week intervals between May and August 2009. Follow ups will include pre- and post-treatment surveys along with the analysis by a separate laboratory of post-treatment herbicide residue samples.
The treatments will be performed pending a permit from the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, Division of Pesticide Control (NHDPC). Also involved would be the necessity of notifying abutters of the treatments and their direct effects and limitations on those living in the immediate vicinity of Ottarnic Pond.
According to Aquatic Control Technology, the entire treatment program would take up to 90 days. During this time, restrictions would be placed upon the use of water from the pond for irrigation functions. The proposal from Aquatic Control Technology also states that swimming in the pond would still be allowed during this time, except on each of the three treatment days.
However, during a public hearing held during the January 6 Board of Selectmen workshop meeting, Ed Mercer, Co-Chair of the Advocates for Ottarnic Pond and Conservation Commission alternate, revealed that the commission anticipated closing the pond for at least a week or possibly the entire summer. “It would be beneficial to close the pond for the summer. It’s a lot to ask and we realize that,” stated Mercer.
Furthermore, Conservation Commission Chairman Bob Haefner explained that the commission made a proposal to close the pond for a year in the case of motorboats. Cross-pollination may occur if motorboats enter the pond during the treatment period, which could alter the measurement rates of the program’s overall effectiveness.
Mercer agreed, adding that, “The transfer from water body to water body is historically probably 98 percent from motor craft.”
The DES grant was accepted by the Board of Selectmen with a vote of 4-0. (Selectman Roger Coutu was not present). Since the total cost for the pond treatment is $38,250, once the grant is applied, the town will be responsible for the remaining $25,250. These funds will be drawn from the town’s Conservation Commission Fund.
A separate public hearing will be held in the upcoming months regarding the specific lengths of time for which the pond should be closed for treatment.