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Police Chief Q&A: Russell Jenkins

Each of the three finalists for Braintree Police Chief answered the same questions on Wednesday night.

The three finalists for the job of Braintree Police Chief were interviewed in public at Town Hall on Wednesday night. Deputy Chief Russell Jenkins was among the candidates and a summary of his answers are below.

Posing the questions were Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray, Chief of Staff Peter Morin, Director of Human Resources Karen Shanley and Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association and former Shrewsbury Police Chief.

Why do you want to be the Chief of Police in Braintree?

From the start of his career, Jenkins said he has always worked to put himself in a position to be police chief. He has commanded a regional SWAT team and helped lead the department itself for many years.

"Bottom line is, I am an administrator in my current role and I'd like to go to the top," he said.

Name an achievement from your career and how you accomplished it.

In 1996, there were fierce labor disputes at the Kmart construction site in Braintree, Jenkins said. He proposed to then Chief Paul Frazier to create a crowd control contingent and was given the OK to select 20 officers. He found funding for gas masks and other equipment, trained the officers and deployed them.

"We dealt with those riots very successfully," he said.

Eventually, that group, with Jenkins' leadership and the help of others, grew into a SWAT task force that includes 43 towns, five counties and two sheriff's office, Jenkins said.

What program or practice would you implement to improve relationships with the community?

Jenkins said that as Deputy Chief he has worked to reach residents better via new technologies, but that as chief he would strive to improve the department's website and social media presence. "The future's here... we just need to catch up," he said.

He also pointed to gang activity in Braintree as a problem that requires more attention and special patrols.

What professional challenge have you faced and how did you overcome it?

"Believe it or not, I'm not a very good public speaker," Jenkins said. He has worked on that, especially his nerves in front of crowds. "I do the best I can to overcome it."

As a new leader of the department, how would you build consensus with your employees?

Jenkins said he currently has a good relationship with the officers in his department and the police union.

What is an innovative community program you have implemented?

To deal with underage drinkers, Jenkins said he created a plan for officers on how to approach those younger than 18 who are caught consuming alcohol. The officers must record the experience in a database so that after a second offense the juvenille can be processed through court. Officers must also contact parents to help take care of the problem.

The idea, he said, is to "show some compassion" but also hold youths responsible.

What would be your top three priorities?

Number one would be bringing the K9 program back, Jenkins said. He would also work to address the "manpower issue" – the department is down about 10 officers, he said, and also identify those areas of communication such as social media that he can improve.

What would be your plan for the first three months?

A strong priority would be two promote two deputy chiefs, Jenkins said, and also train new officers. Next would be to "immerse myself in budget issues" in time for the spring budget period, he said.

"No one will work harder or with more passion at this job," Jenkins said in conclusion. "If you like the past eight years, promote me, if not promote someone else. I won't mind."

The questions and answers in this article are meant to accurately reflect each interview session but are not verbatim transcripts.

Robert Johnson October 07, 2012 at 08:29 PM
The K-mart demonstration. A peaceful demonstration, and not a riot!! Rember the Braintree K-9 biting the Braintree Deputy Chief?? The dog even bit a peaceful demonstrator. Another lawsuit the town had to dish money out. None of the dogs could find a lost person, any drugs, and the officers were all given cars, which cost the taxpayers money for the cars, the insurance, the gasoline, general maintenance etc., with no real benefits from the K-9's performance. Waste of taxpayers money.
Mary Powers October 08, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Get the police officers and superior officers out of their houses. We need more accountability. The morale at the police department is low, due to poor practices or non-exististant practices. Hire civilian dispatchers! Put the cop back on the street. Frazier protected the choosen cop/dispatchers whoare afraid to go out on the street. It would be cheaper to hire a telephone operator, than a cop. Lacking common sense and this is not cost effective
Mary Powers October 08, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Your responses to your top 3 priorities if you get hired as police chief are a complete waste of money. K-9's are a liability. Proved to cost us taxpayers money. The ongoing training,food, shelter, car, gasoline, insurance, maintenance, etc. The dogs have proved to be a liability and have served NO purpose. You even have a police officer that was mauled by your own police dog as a result of negligence by the handlier. You did nothing to the handlier. Who would bring a vivious dog to look for a lost child?? Now the town will be paying for the officers medical bills for a long time. We are still paying for Maura.
Mary Powers October 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Your approached to alcohol related issues. Let the kids drink, get drunk, babysit them to we find their parents, hopefully they didn't go away for the weekend is disturbing. Organizations like MADD & SADD have worked hard to combat underage drinking, you even fired a police sergeant for letting a drunk go. Yet you pick and choose which of our youth goes to court. I don't want to dodge the drunk on the road, I want the police to do everything legal to get the drunk off the road. You should be working with the community and your officers to protect us from the drunks, and underage parties where alcohol is involved, not condoning the issue. Do your job to combat alcohol abuse.
Mary Powers October 08, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Budget Woes. Why to you have to wait to address budget concerns. You have no problem inflating your fellow police officers overtime slips, when they are not entitled to receive compensation. You should have been doing something for the last eight years. Get up off your duff and start to save us money. Everything you have offered is going to cause us more money and raise our taxes. We need new outside blood to come to this police department to make the necessary changes to stop the corruption, and political process of rubber stamping things. Pull your papers out as the other two candidates are shinning stars compared to you.

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