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Hankard set to take the helm at Sanbornton PD

Sanbornton Selectman Andrew Livernois swears in the town's next police chief, Stephen Hankard, last Wednesday night. Hankard will assume the position at the end of the month. Carolyn Di Nitto, Sanbornton PD. (click for larger version)
December 16, 2009
SANBORNTON — Heavy snow couldn't keep some away from watching as a new chief was sworn in at Sanbornton's Selectmen's meeting last Wednesday night. Even the Man of the Hour, Lt. Stephen Hankard, was surprised at the turnout.

"With the snow and all I wasn't sure they would even hold it that night. I certainly didn't think many people would be there," Hankard said on Thursday.

Current Police Chief Mark Barton informed selectmen earlier this year that after 19 years with the department he would be retiring at the end of 2009. As selectmen contemplated who would become Sanbornton's fifth police chief, Barton recommended Lt. Hankard to fill the slot. The two have worked closely together over the years, and Hankard was familiar with most aspects of the chief's position already, he told selectmen. After reading his resume and interviewing the lieutenant, selectmen offered the veteran officer the job.

Hankard will begin his official duties, assuming the title of chief, at midnight on Jan. 1. Town Administrator Robert Velsoki said the decision to swear Hankard in now was to ensure that the town would always have a police chief.

"This was done as a seamless passing of the torch. We still have just one chief but now Lt. Hankard will be all set to take over on Jan. 1 with no interruptions," Veloski said.

Chiefs and members of police departments from Belmont, Gilford, Tilton, New Hampton and other local communities along with officers from the N.H. State Police traveled through the region's first heavy snowfall to watch as Hankard was sworn in.

"I was really surprised to see them all, especially on such a bad night," Hankard said.

He was also touched to see his fellow Sanbornton police officers on hand as well as his family, some who traveled quite a distance to attend.

The newly sworn chief was born and raised in East Hartford, Conn. A graduate of UNH, Hankard received his bachelor's degree in sociology and moved to central New Hampshire after graduation.

"The family had a summer place in the Newfound area and I always loved it up here," he said.

Looking back, becoming a policeman seemed like a natural thing to the veteran officer, as his father is a retired deputy chief for East Hartford. Hankard also has several cousins who are police officers and an uncle who is a chief is Connecticut.

"There's a long line of police and firemen in my family," he said.

His wife Sue is also chief dispatcher for Belknap County Sheriff's Department.

Hankard began his career by becoming a dispatcher for Belknap County himself. Through that job he had the opportunity to meet many local police officers and said he always liked the Sanbornton Police Department.

"When there was an opening in Sanbornton, Mark (Barton) called and encouraged me to apply. I've been here ever since," he recalled.

Over the past 13 years, Hankard has moved up through the ranks as a patrolman, a sergeant and a lieutenant. Now he has taken the oath to uphold the laws of the Town of Sanbornton and become their next chief.

"The nice thing about being a chief in a small town is that you still have a hand in things. It's really a 'road chief' position where you still patrol and perform investigations, which is good. I wouldn't want to give that up," Hankard said.

The training has gone smoothly so far, he reported. As second in command, he has filled in for Barton numerous times, performing many of the functions of the job. The budget procedures were not as familiar to him though, and Hankard said Barton has been instrumental in helping him to prepare his first budget.

As Jan. 1 draws near, Hankard is pleased with the support he has received from both his co-workers and the people of Sanbornton. When he assumes his new role as police chief he promised the hard work will continue as he and the department look forward to bringing Sanbornton the best service possible.

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