Winchester police chief submits resignation

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Jun. 23—WINCHESTER — The town once again will be looking for a new police chief after Erik Josephson submitted his resignation during the non-public session of Wednesday night's selectboard meeting.

Board Chairwoman Lindseigh Picard said this morning that the board has not yet voted on Josephson's resignation, but she expects the five-member group to accept it.

"We received the resignation, and the board just wanted an opportunity to process until next week what our next steps will be," Picard said in a phone interview.

Josephson did not return messages seeking comment today.

Picard declined to share the chief's resignation letter, or say why he is leaving the department, since this information came out during a non-public session.

"Hopefully we'll have more information for our community at our meeting next week," which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29, Picard said.

She also declined to say when Josephson's resignation will take effect, but added that he "has given us a good amount of time to work to appropriately staff or replace [him]." Aside from Josephson, the Winchester Police Department currently has one part-time and two full-time officers, Picard said. Josephson said in January that the department is authorized to have seven full-time and three part-time officers.

The resignation comes just eight months into his term, the same duration of time that the town previously went without a chief of police following the departure of Mike Tollett, who left the post in January 2021 after the selectboard decided not to renew his contract.

During Josephson's tenure, he has sought to fire two Winchester officers. In January, the selectboard terminated one of those officers, Sgt. Kristopher Fox, who failed to appear to testify at three criminal trials late last year. Fox had argued he was never subpoenaed for one of those trials and was on unpaid administrative leave pending a medical evaluation during the other two.

Less than three weeks later, Josephson recommended the board fire Lt. James Fisher. During two separate public hearings, spanning a combined five hours on Feb. 10 and 24, testimony centered on whether the lieutenant lied to the selectboard and town administrator and how much information he should have given them about the alleged misconduct of another officer.

That officer, Joshua Edson, surrendered his police certification and left the department in February. The N.H. Attorney General's Office had been investigating Edson for alleged sexual activity with someone he arrested and whose case was still pending, prior to Josephson's arrival as chief. Despite finding probable cause to charge Edson with witness tampering, the AG's office announced Feb. 25 that he would not face charges, since prosecutors concluded they would have difficulty prevailing in a trial.

The following week, the Winchester selectboard deadlocked on whether to fire Fisher, who has since returned to work for the department.

Josephson took the reins as Winchester police chief in October 2021 with more than three decades of law enforcement experience, according to Town Administrator Karey Miner. During closing remarks at the meeting Wednesday, selectboard member Natalie Quevedo thanked the police chief for his time served.

"I would just like to commend the chief of police on the things that he did do while he was employed by us," she said, according to a video recording of the meeting. "I would personally like to wish him the best of luck on his next endeavor."