Willard to stay on as U.S. Marshal until replacement is confirmed, promises 'smooth transition'

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Aug. 1—Current U.S. Marshal and former Manchester Police Chief Enoch "Nick" Willard says he will remain on the job until his replacement is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, a process which could take months.

President Joe Biden has nominated Londonderry Police Chief Bill Hart as the next U.S. Marshal for New Hampshire, a law enforcement job with responsibilities that include tracking down people wanted on federal warrants, jailing federal defendants before trial and arranging for witness protection.

"I plan to stay in place until Chief Hart is confirmed, while working closely with him to ensure a smooth transition," said Willard. "He is a really good man and I'm incredibly happy for him."

Hart, who announced earlier this month he would be retiring as Londonderry police chief sometime in August, would succeed Willard, who has served in the post since 2018.

Hart will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before assuming the post.

The nomination will first go to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which will view it, vet it and then vote on it with a recommendation to the full Senate, after which the full Senate will vote.

No timetable for the confirmation process has been established.

"It's a somewhat long process," said Willard, who was nominated for the position in April 2018 by former President Donald Trump and ultimately confirmed by the full Senate in September 2018. His nomination came after working on the Manchester police force for 26 years.

New Hampshire's U.S. senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan (both Democrats), congratulated Hart on his nomination Monday.

"Having served as chief of the Londonderry Police Department for over a decade, during which time he has made a concerted effort to foster community relations, he exemplifies the type of leadership and experience necessary to succeed in this role," said Shaheen. "As our state and nation face serious public safety issues, including the surge in gun violence and the role of law enforcement amid the substance use disorder crisis, it's paramount that New Hampshire's U.S. Marshal is up to the tasks ahead — I have full faith Chief Hart is that person."

"Chief Hart has served Londonderry and our entire state with excellence and professionalism for more than three decades, and has kept our people and communities safe," said Hassan. "I know that he will bring that same commitment to the people of New Hampshire to this role, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support his confirmation."

Hart's nomination was part of several Biden nominations for law enforcement posts announced by the White House on Friday, but was the lone nominee for the job of marshal, the oldest law-enforcement position in United States government, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

The president gets to name 94 marshals, one for each federal judicial district across the country. They are charged with protecting federal judges, apprehending federal fugitives, managing and selling forfeited assets and protecting witnesses, including those in the witness protection program.

Hart is the 12th nominee to serve as U.S. Marshal announced by President Biden since he took office, the White House said.

Hart has served as chief in Londonderry since 2009.

He was previously a captain with the Londonderry Police Department from 2000 to 2009. Before that, Hart served as Rockingham County attorney from 1995 to 1998. He was Londonderry's police prosecutor from 1992 to 1994. He also served as a prosecutor for several towns across New Hampshire from 1992 to 2002.

Hart received his B.A. from Merrimack College in 1981 and his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1986. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.