DOVER -- The decision to accept taking over the position as chief was not made lightly.
"It was not an easy decision to make," said Dover Police Chief Randy Johnson. "But after talking to a lot of people within the community and (former Police Chief) Bobby Edwards announcing he was leaving, and up until I made that decision, I had a lot of support and encouragement from the townspeople. That was an important factor for accepting the job."
Since Nov. 1, he has been filling the role after securing the position through being offered the job by the Selectboard. Former chief Bobby Edwards recommended that the board make him chief.
Edwards had hired Johnson as a part-time officer in 1982, then as a full-time officer in 1983. In 1998, Johnson became a sergeant and has held that position since Edwards retired.
Graduating from Dover School and Wilmington High School, Johnson then held a few jobs around the valley.
He worked at a gas station in Wilmington as well as the True Value hardware store. One of his last jobs before joining the department was at Mount Snow.
"I was the foreman of the G1 gondola," said Johnson. "I ran it and I was in charge at the bottom of the gondola."
He then decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, who had been a Windham County Deputy Sheriff and even spent a year as chief of the Dover Police in 1976.
"He ended up having to quit just because I had an older brother who had a brain tumor," said Johnson.
His father spent a lot of time traveling to and from Boston General and felt it wouldn't be right to keep the position at the time.
Johnson knew he was likely to stick around in the community where he grew up. So he opted to be part of the town and see what he could do to make it better.
There are things that go on in a small town that many people aren't aware of, Johnson told the Reformer.
"Sometimes, people don't see what goes on in the police department unless they read something drastic that is newsworthy," he added. "There are lots of things that go on in a small town and community like this that people aren't aware of. I know I wasn't until I became a police officer."
During his first days on the department, there were only three or four officers, including Edwards, who was chief at the time.
Once the Dover Police Department is fully staffed, there will be five full-time officers and five part-time officers. Three of those part-time officers will be fairly active in the department while the other two will be on call rather than working a schedule.
"They are there if we need them," said Johnson.
Edwards will be among the two part-timers, who will be ready to assist if needed. On Dec. 17, the Selectboard approved hiring him at Johnson's recommendation.
To keep projects that Edwards initiated, which includes a class that he gives to the local business community on fake I.D.'s, played a big role in rehiring him.
Since taking over the position, Johnson has consulted Edwards on the budget. It was the first time that Johnson was putting together a budget. He wanted to clarify some line items and what certain funds are used for.
"The budget process was my first one. It was easier than I thought it would be but it was still hard," said Johnson.
He noted that since he was initially hired, there has been growth in the Deerfield Valley.
"It's grown substantially," he said. "I don't remember exactly how many condominiums we had in town when I first came on. Maybe one or two. People were mainly staying in ski lodges before the condos were built."
One of the results has been a need for more officers.
Currently, Johnson is going through the hiring process. The department needed to replace the full-time position that Edwards left open. One of the other officers had taken a job with the Windham County Sheriff's Department, so a permanent part-time officer was needed.
Usually, the busiest time of the year in Dover is now, Johnson told the Reformer. The winter tends to draw a lot of people to the region to visit the ski areas, such as Mount Snow and Haystack.
While the new hires are not yet on the job, Johnson has taken on responsibilities that are not always designated for the chief.
"We have a short staff administratively," he said. "I'm taking calls at this time. Sometimes that happens in a small police department."
Johnson voiced his gratitude for his staff at the department.
"For this transition over the last few months, they made it easier. They helped pick up some of the things that needed to be done," he said.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.