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Bonus

The police chief in Portsmouth retired at the end of June after 26 years on the job. There were no gold watches or testimonial dinners for him: that's because he was back at his desk three days later drawing a part-time salary with the new title of ``interim chief,'' while drawing a pension. But it's a $10,000 bonus payment he got after his retirement - and a gag order preventing him from talking about it - that has Jim Hummel asking some questions.

 

If you want to see Interim Chief Furtado's agreement click here.

 

If you want to see Interim Deputy Chief Cofield's agreement click here.

SCRIPT:

When a 13-year-old Portsmouth girl disappeared in July, the town's Police Chief, Jeff Furtado, was the face of the department, giving periodic updates to the media.

What many people didn't know is that Furtado had retired from the department three weeks earlier after 26 years on the force. For the first six months of 2013 he had serving as Acting Chief after the previous chief retired.

But on July 1st Furtado's title changed to Interim Chief. He began collecting a $67,00 a year pension, plus Blue Cross medical and Delta Dental coverage. He also got a payout of more than $70,000 for unused sick, vacation and comp time, all provided for in the union contract.

Furtado continued working part-time, earning $1,400 a week in his new role as interim chief, outlined in an agreement drawn up by Town Administrator John Klimm.

Klimm says he asked Furtado and Acting Deputy Police Chief Steven Cofield to stay on after their retirements while he completes a search for a new chief.

Klimm: ``I didn't want a disruption in service and it's a very important position and they were willing to do it during the interim.''

Part of the deal: a lump sum bonus payment of $10,000 for Furtado and $8,500 for Cofield when they began as interims, according to a contract the town provided after The Hummel Report asked for terms of the arrangement last week.

Klimm: ``We're paying the chief half time for full time work and we're getting 50 years of experience with no disruption from now until the time we hire a chief.''

In fact, Furtado and Cofield, according to the contract, are being paid for 29 hours a week each, at approximately the rate they were making when they put in their retirement papers at the end of June.

So why the bonus payments for the two officers?

Portsmouth is the only community we could find in the state where every officer - including the chief - is in the union. And the union contract expired June 30th. Furtado, who had 26 years on the job and Cofield 25 had a difficult choice to make: stay and potentially lose some retirement benefits in a new contract or retire and preserve their pension payments and full medical coverage.

But they were each a month away from receiving a substantial longevity bonus: $10,000 for Furtado and $8,500 for Cofield.

And they wanted it enough to ask for a 30-day extension to the union contract just for them. The union unanimously rejected their request, saying it would agree only if the contract was extended for all 33 members of the department, something the town was unwilling to do.

Hummel: ``Chief Furtado also got a $10,000 bonus and Mr. Cofield got $8,500.''

Klimm: ``That's correct.''

Hummel: ``And what was that for?''

Klimm: ``In lieu of the longevity they would have gotten if they hadn't retired.''

Hummel: ```But didn't they have to make the decision by June 30th, because potentially with the new contract they might have faced a reduction in benefits, they had to decide - their longevity, their anniversary was in July.''

Klimm: ``That's correct.''

Hummel: ``So don't you think they had to decide one way or the other - we're going to retire or maybe stay and get the longevity?''

Klimm: ``Well, that was a decision that was made by the town. And as you probably know several weeks later we had a child abduction and we were very pleased to be in a position with 50 years of experience between the chief and the deputy that the right types of decisions were made. And so I don't think there were many people second-guessing that decision.''

And the two-page agreement, signed on July 5th, contained a gag order. ``Mr. Furtado, agrees at all times to keep the terms of this Agreement strictly confidential and not to disclose, characterize, comment on, convey or in any sense reveal the content or nature of this Agreement to any person or entity, including but not limited to members of the media...''

Hummel: ``Did it hinge on their saying, `Well, look we'd really like that longevity.' Clearly the chief is getting his retirement, he's continuing to get paid, but he's also getting a sick payout for all of that - but for the extra $18,500 was that going to make or break the deal for them?''

Klimm: ``Uh, you'd have to them.''

So asked Furtado, who told the Hummel Report the confidentiality agreement prevented him from speaking with us.

Hummel: ``Was that all vetted out, were those payments made public?''

Klimm: ``I'm certainly making it public now for anybody that asks, yeah.''

Hummel: ``There's a clause in the contract that specifically says for them not to talk about it with the media.''

Klimm: ``For them not to. ''

Hummel: ``Why would that be?''

Klimm: ``I don't know, that was a provision that was put in by the town's attorney, but I  certainly haven't hidden the fact that - I'm proud of the work the chief did and in the long run I think it's saving money for the town.''

Klimm says the town hopes to complete the search process for a new chief by the end of the month.

In Portsmouth, Jim Hummel for The Hummel Report.