HINSDALE, N.H. -- There's a new chief of police in town.
In front of a room of at least 30 people -- including family members and friends -- Todd Faulkner took an oath to serve and protect the community to best of his ability and with that became the newest chief of the Hinsdale Police Department on Monday.
Formally the lieutenant, Faulkner then stepped aside so David Eldridge, whom he had personally selected, could be sworn in as his replacement. Both men, dressed in uniform, were sworn in by Hinsdale Board of Selectmen Chairman John Smith.
Faulkner became the interim chief after Wayne Gallagher retired earlier this year and Eldridge left his detective job with the Chesterfield Police Department to assume his new post.
Each of two was immediately congratulated by the selectmen and fellow law enforcement officers and received a round of applause from the audience at Hinsdale Town Hall.
After walking downstairs and into another room to take photos with family, Faulkner and Eldridge spoke to the media about what they see for the department down the road.
"The future is very bright for us," Faulkner said. "We have an outstanding team. Dave and I have a real good group of guys below us and ... I know you're going to see the department progress.
"I guess I'll just say, ‘Stand by -- because you're going to be pleased with what you see,'" he continued.
Faulkner, of Nelson, went on to say Eldridge
"David scored the highest of all the applicants. He did an outstanding job. And he comes with 25 years of law enforcement experience," Faulkner said. "He's worked in both Vermont and New Hampshire and knowing him, looking at this background, looking at what he's done and what he has achieved as a law enforcement officer, he was the best pick for our department and I think he's going to be a great asset to us."
Faulkner said Eldridge's duties will include working with the regional prosecutor's office, heading all felony investigations and being in charge of the department in Faulkner's absence.
Eldridge, who has served in Brattleboro and Vernon, Vt., said he is extremely excited for this new venture.
"I've got some awful big shoes to fill but I have the confidence that we can do it," he said. "I've had a lot of doors open up so I can excel and get more experience and this was kind of where I wanted to end up."
Chesterfield Police Chief Lester Fairbanks said in a telephone interview his department will sorely miss Eldridge. He said he will speak to the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen at its next meeting -- on Wednesday, Sept. 5 -- about how to go about replacing Eldridge.
"He was incredibly important here and he was a fantastic detective," he said, adding the department will likely advertise to fill the now vacant position.
Faulkner, as interim chief, told the Hinsdale Board of Selectmen in June his department has become overwhelmed.
"We're in our busy season right now. We're drowning. The life vests aren't working. We can't tread water anymore," he said at the time. "The case load is up significantly. We're down officers. Part-timers are filling in astronomically right now."
Faulkner said the department was at the time seeing two to four child-related cases every week and each one needs to be investigated. He said there is also an increase in motor vehicle stops that resulted in arrests as well as fraud cases.
"On any given day when I come into work, I have about 100 to 120 reports to review," he said. "And that's after I clear them out the day before."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.