LEE -- A veteran local police officer is the town's new police chief -- the third in nearly two years.
On Tuesday night, Lee police Sgt. Jeffrey Roosa was named to lead the Lee Police Department, replacing former Police Chief Joseph Buffis, who was fired three months ago by the Board of Selectmen.
The three-member board unanimously approved Roosa's appointment by Town Administrator Robert Nason, who has the municipal authority to hire the police chief.
"Congratulations, we're glad to have you," said Chairman Gordon Bailey, shaking Roosa's hand following the vote.
Nason chose the Lee native based on the unanimous recommendation of the police chief citizen search committee. The nine-person ad hoc panel picked Roosa over former police sergeant Brian Resetar from Toms River, N.J. The two men were the finalists among the 70 people who applied for the position.
Roosa vows to be visible and accessible to townspeople on and off duty.
"My lifestyle isn't going to change," he told local media after wards. "You'll see me at basketball games, football games, in uniform and in street clothes."
Roosa will earn an annual salary of just more than $72,000. Buffis, a 33-year veteran of the Lee police force, was earning nearly $74,000 a year before he was fired amid accusations of improperly billing the town for his personal cellphone use.
The 40-year-old Roosa began his law enforcement career as an officer with the Sheffield Police Department in 1996, before joining the Lee Police Department in September 2001. He was named sergeant in February 2012 to succeed Buffis. Buffis was appointed chief in September 2011, replacing Ronald Glidden who held the post from 1994-2011 and has served as the interim chief until a permanent one was found.
Glidden also served on the search committee and was chief when Roosa returned to Lee, making an impression on his former boss.
"I haven't met a harder working, more motivated police officer," Glidden said. "He's flexible enough to meet the needs of the department and the community."
Roosa will oversee a municipal police department of 10 full-time officers, supervise five civilian emergency dispatchers and act as the town's emergency management director. These areas account for a combined operating budget of $1.1 million.
In August, the Lee Board of Selectmen voted to terminate Buffis' contract at a public meeting, saying the chief billed the town for nearly $5,000 over a two-year period for his family cellphone plan with Verizon Wireless.
Buffis, through his attorney, said Nason agreed that the town would pay for his personal cellphone service when he was hired as chief in September 2011. Nason emphatically denied the claim, as has town attorney Jeremia Pollard.
Nason and the selectmen say Buffis' firing was unrelated to a federal indictment handed down this summer accusing the ousted police chief of extortion and money laundering.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, in February 2012, Buffis coerced a Lee couple to donate $4,000 to the Edward J. Laliberte Toy Fund that he controlled in exchange for a deal in which he would not go forward with prostitution-related charges against them.
Federal prosecutors said Buffis then transferred that money to his own account, used it for personal expenses and lied to investigators about it.
Buffis, 55, has denied the charges. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each count if convicted.
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