Homecoming for incoming Claremont Police chief
CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) - There is a changing of the guard when it comes to public safety in Claremont, New Hampshire, which in many ways represents the past and future of policing.
“It’s knowing the pulse of the community,” said Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase.
That’s how Chase measures success. And after 32 years as a police officer, he is preparing to hand in his badge. Chase grew up in Claremont and says he loves his community. But he also says, it has seen hard times. “I’ve seen more people die from opioids over the last couple of years than I ever have and it is something 10 years ago that I would not have thought of,” he said.
The incoming chief is also from Claremont. In fact, Brent Wilmot’s dad was also an officer. The 40-year-old spent 15 years with the Claremont PD before becoming the chief in neighboring Newport. As he prepares to come home, Wilmot is well aware of the staffing issues that face departments across the region. “It seems to be in every industry right now. But getting people, good people, who want to come into the profession,” Wilmot said.
Filling vacancies is Wilmot’s immediate internal goal. Externally, he says the department needs to focus on what residents want from their police, something that has been expressed on streets across the country. “As we went through the summer of 2020 and beyond, society’s expectations of law enforcement are ever-changing and so we have to be responsive to those changes,” Wilmot said.
Chase offers this advice to his successor: “Seeing tragedy and heartbreak and badness all the time can sour you. Try to find something positive to stay positive.”
Wilmot says his message to the community is one of partnership. “We need their help just as much as they need our help. In fact, we probably need their help more than they need ours,” said Wilmot.
Wilmot officially takes over the department at the end of July. The search for the new chief in Newport is ongoing.
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