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Joyce Endee

Littleton's Officer Cote pursuing 'other career opportunities'

Three officers have resigned in recent weeks

January 04, 2012
LITTLETON — The seventh Littleton police officer in less than a year is resigning from the police department, citing a "desire to pursue other career opportunities."

Officer Christopher Cote, who has worked for Littleton since 2008, will be gone by the end of this week, after handing in his resignation at the end of December. The news comes less than a month after Officer Michelle Soares' last day and on the heels of Officer Aaron Roberts' resignation, which was effective Dec. 28. However, Chief Paul Smith said the letter didn't come as a surprise as Cote had earlier indicated that he was looking elsewhere for employment.

Smith also said last Thursday that the replacement for Soares — Officer Gary Hebert, who used to work for the town — would be back to doing patrols by this week and the department was hoping to make an announcement soon as to who will be filling Roberts' position.

Town officials have said recently that job security may be playing a part in the police officers' desire to seek out other employment options.

Interim Town Manager Fred Moody said that no one had expressed that they didn't enjoy working for the town, but many likely feel that they have to look out for their best interest.

After the town budget was cut by $745,000 last year, a number of positions were eliminated, including two patrol officers, two firefighters, three highway department employees, one transfer station employee, the tax collector and the town manager.

For this year, the town is proposing a budget of $7,790,429 — according to numbers given out before the holiday break in December — while the Budget Committee recently voted to support the default budget at $7,591,364. If the default budget is passed, the town will likely have make additional cuts in order to make up for increases in things it can't control, such as fuel costs. The proposed budget also has yet to face the deliberative session, during which it was amended last year to make the $745,000 cut.

In addition to Roberts, Soares and now Cote, officers Joseph Priest, Kevin LaValley, David Wentworth and Hebert resigned over the course of last year.

Hebert and Wentworth had resigned last spring "to avoid the unemployment line," since as recent hires they were at risk for being laid off after two patrol officer positions were eliminated from the budget. Hebert went on to work for Haverhill. LaValley's resignation soon after, even though it came early, was expected, as he was a temporary replacement for Officer James Gardiner who was deployed to Kuwait.

Officer Cody MacKay, who graduated from the police academy Dec. 2, is now finishing up his field training and is a replacement for Priest.

Smith said that leaves the department short just one patrol officer, and beginning last Tuesday, it already was actively advertising the position because the union agreed to wave the internal posting requirement.

He said the department would prefer certified officers, but anyone who is 21 years of age or older with a two-year college degree or other relevant training, such as through the military, can apply. The application is available on the department website, www.littletonpd.org, and should be submitted to the Littleton Police Department, attention human resources.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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