| By Ryan J. Halliday/ Daily News Staff|
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
DEDHAM -- Lt. Michael J. Weir will be the new chief of police, the Board of Selectmen decided last night.
Weir, a 33-year department veteran, will replace his longtime colleague, Chief Dennis Teehan, who is retiring at the end of the year after heading the department for more than 17 years.
"I look forward to taking over for Chief Teehan," Weir said last night. "He did a great job."
Selectmen, who had two weeks to veto Town Administrator William Keegan's choice to replace Teehan, instead acted quickly on the recommendation, voting unanimously to promote Weir to chief with no discussion or debate.
"I'm looking forward to moving the town forward, and I appreciate the opportunity to do that," Weir told selectmen.
A three-member search committee picked Weir over Lt. Francis M. Bielawski after interviewing the two candidates earlier this month. The committee focused only in-house candidates, and Weir and Bielawski were the only applicants, said Keegan.
Keegan said a search committee of himself, Canton Town Administrator William T. Friel, and former Walpole Assistant Town Manager Marjarita Doherty interviewed the two candidates separately on Nov. 10, asking each 10 prepared questions as well as follow-ups.
While Keegan said the committee was "impressed with both candidates," he said the panel decided Weir was the more qualified applicant.
"It was the (committee's) opinion that Lt. Weir was the best fit for the organization at this time," Keegan said. "While the panelists also noted that Lt. Bielawski was well-prepared for this role and could perform the duties admirably if the decision was made in his favor, the panelists concluded that Lt. Weir's management style was more consistent with the needs of the department and the community."
Weir, a lifelong resident, is taking over for Teehan 33 years after the pair broke into the department together.
Teehan said in an earlier interview that he had always believed Weir had the ability to be chief.
He said he became convinced his long-time friend and colleague was up to the job this summer following the accidental shooting death of Justin Stivaletta, and the resulting controversy days later when police clashed with mourners who refused to leave Stivaletta's grave after the cemetery had closed.
Teehan said Weir handled the situation well and later effectively defended the department's actions in the local press.
"That's when I knew Mike Weir could do the job," Teehan said.
While Teehan's last day on the job is Nov. 30, the chief is owed about a month of vacation time, and is not officially retiring until Dec. 31. Weir's first official day as chief will be Jan. 2, Keegan said.
Keegan said he has been negotiating a contract agreement with the new chief. Teehan earned a salary of about $133,000 this year. While Keegan was unable to say last night what Weir's current salary is, according to the latest Town Report, the lieutenant earned a base salary of $102,496 in 2004, and an additional $5,395 in overtime.
Keegan said he would also schedule an official swearing-in ceremony for Weir in the coming weeks.
Under town law, Keegan has the authority to pick a candidate for chief, but selectmen have the power to veto that choice within 15 days. Selectmen last night voted 5-0 to waive that right and hire Weir.