LINCOLN – Fire Chief Phil Dawson is acting police chief until a replacement for Chief Hank Dusenbery is found, Town Manager Glenn Aho said Wednesday.
Dawson’s 24 1/2 years as a state trooper, the need to have someone on-hand to issue concealed weapons permits and handle other public duties that require a chief, and Dawson’s familiarity with the Lincoln Police Department are among the reasons he is a logical, if temporary, replacement, Aho said.
“You don’t typically see a fire chief replacing a police chief, but it makes sense because of Phil’s previous career,” Aho said Wednesday.
Dusenbery, who took the helm of the town’s police squad five years ago after a 20-year career with the state police, cited philosophical differences with Aho as his reason for leaving on July 2.
Aho and Dusenbery disagreed over Aho’s idea to push the Police Department toward a better customer-service and community policing philosophy, although Aho was quick to say that the department had been managed and performing well under Dusenbery and his relationship with Dusenbery was solid.
“From my perspective, it’s just a difference in philosophy,” Dusenbery had said. “I’m kind of stubborn and this has been causing me some stress and I want to eliminate it.”
Sgt. Jamie Slauenwhite and Patrolman Nelson Grant also resigned. Slauenwhite accepted a post with the Old Town Police Department and Grant moved to Montana to be closer to his wife’s family. Neither officer has been replaced yet, Dawson said.
“What we’re just trying to do is maintain the status quo and keep things moving in an orderly fashion,” Dawson said. “There’s no planned change or overhaul or anything like that.”
Dawson, who began serving double duty as police and fire chief on Friday, said he was unsure such change would happen or was needed.
The town’s search for a new police chief is statewide and the application period will close Aug. 3, with hiring to follow sometime after, Aho said.
An officer within the Fire Department will take on some of Dawson’s managerial duties there if the need arises, he said.