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Oct 7, 2015 5:21 PM

Portsmouth police chief's separation deal falls through - again


PORTSMOUTH - Residents of Portsmouth will have to wait another two weeks to learn the fate of their police chief's employment with the city.

After hearing from more than a dozen concerned citizens, the city's police commission voted to table action on a revised separation agreement regarding Chief Stephen DuBois' resignation.

The original agreement, which was debated at Monday night's city council meeting, would've ended the chief's employment in March 2016. A revised agreement, which was placed in front of the commission this morning, would've accepted the chief's resignation for January 1 and include an additional 3 months of severance pay.

Only one police commissioner, Chairman John Golumb, voted in support of the revised deal. Police commissioners Brenna Cavanaugh and Wayne Lehman voted against the agreement.

"We are more divided than ever, and it’s unfortunate," said Cavanaugh.

Prior to this morning's meeting, Cavanaugh said she had accepted the revised deal during a non-meeting. But after hearing public comment, she said she changed her mind.

“The public doesn’t want this agreement, and I had to listen to my constituents," Cavanaugh told NH1 News.

The police commission's chairman, John Golumb, spoke about his lone vote in support.

“This is a fair and reasonable settlement," Golumb said.

Disagreement over the separation deal has shaken up the city, as the chief continues to work under his current contract, which has 2 years remaining.

DuBois came under the spotlight after questions arose whether or not he took appropriate action with fired Sgt. Aaron Goodwin – who a judge ruled exerted undue influence on an elderly woman to obtain a multi-million dollar estate.

According to the Robert's Report released in June, Chief DuBois, as part of the commanding staff, "failed to recognize ramifications of the bequest and the relationship between Mrs. Webber and Sgt. Goodwin and failed to take appropriate action."

A number of public comments given at this morning's meeting cited what they believe to be the chief's involvement in the Goodwin-Webber case, and their reasoning for requesting his immediate resignation.

"He needs to go today," said Joe Onosko, a police commission candidate who lives across the street from the late Webber home. "He needed to go months ago."

Onosko joined about 25 other residents who attended.

"I am very frustrated with this, and so are people in the community," said Mayor Robert Lister. "This is a very important issue – a very important case.”

The mayor also told the commission that they should make up their minds so that they can deal with other city business.

“At some point, we all have to get on the same page here," he said.

The commission meeting will be continued until October 20. Public comment will not be allowed.


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