BIDDEFORD — Citing what he described as a “challenging budget process,” and other pressing issues, City Manager Jim Bennett said the search for a new police chief is now on hold.

The search is expected to resume within the next six months, said Bennett. In the meantime, Interim Chief JoAnne Fisk, the former longtime deputy police chief, will continue in the interim role.

“I am … very confident in Interim Police Chief JoAnne Fisk’s continuing ability to lead the department during the transition,” said Bennett in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, March 15. ” I see no reason to rush the process of appointing a new police chief knowing that the department is already in capable hands.”

The city began the search for a new chief of the department last year after former longtime Chief Roger Beaupre announced he would retire at the latter part of January. The city entered into an $11,000 contract with GovHr USA, an Illinois-based consulting firm, to conduct a search. In all, a nine-member city government and citizens panel examined 18 applications provided by GovHR USA  and forwarded three names to Bennett for consideration. The 18 applicants hailed from across the country and included one international applicant. The posted salary for the position was in the $99,000 to $130,000 range.

Under the city charter, the city manager selects the police chief, whose appointment is confirmed by the city council.

“Though quite a few qualified individuals applied for the position, I ultimately concluded that suspending the process at this time was best for the community and the members of the Biddeford Police Department,” said Bennett in a news release. “The city is just starting what will be a more challenging budget process than the last few years. That challenge, along with other pressing issues, is contributing to the decision to put the search on hold.”


The police department is made up of 56 sworn officers and 27 non-sworn employees, most of the latter serving as dispatchers. The department has two community engagement specialists and an opioid outreach liaison.

Under Beaupre, the department achieved national accreditation and was recently reaccredited.

The exact timing of when the search will resume is uncertain but will be within the next six months, said city spokeswoman Danica Lamontagne. She indicated a new search for candidates is likely to be issued.

“Selecting the right candidate for a position as important as the Chief of Police requires more than law enforcement experience,” said Bennett. “We are seeking someone whose values align with those that were outlined in resident feedback during the recruitment process, and who will fit in seamlessly with the department’s culture.”

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