Jan. 26, 2012
By Luke Baynes
Police Chief Roy Nelson resigned Monday as head of the Williston Police Department, seven months after taking an indefinite leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment.
Citing uncertainty about his future health and the desire to be close to family in Connecticut, Nelson steps down less than two years after assuming the position as Williston’s chief law enforcement officer.
“I can’t be selfish about the department. I didn’t want to be dragging them out long-term,” said Nelson, whose resignation will be effective Jan. 31. “The department needs to have stability, and I’m not in the position to really give that stability and foster growth by being here in Connecticut addressing my needs, so I thought it was the prudent thing to do both personally and professionally.”
Nelson, 53, drove from Connecticut on Sunday and hand-delivered his letter of resignation to Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire Monday morning.
“He’s such a gentleman and a professional,” McGuire said of Nelson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s mantle cell lymphoma in April 2011. “He wanted to be the person who explained it to the members of the police department, so after he talked to me he went next door and met with the officers that were around.”
Nelson, who began cancer treatment on June 16, said he is currently in the recovery phase of a treatment regimen that included hyper-CVAD chemotherapy. His next checkup will be in April.
“I’m optimistic that (with) the care that I’ve been given so far that we’re addressing the issue as best as possible,” said Nelson. “Probably one of the biggest problems with this cancer is the remission rate is low, and because of that it’s just an unknown territory, because remission is based on time.”
McGuire said the town will begin seeking a replacement for Nelson as soon as possible, with the goal of having a new chief in place by June 1. He noted that he will use the same vetting process and hiring criteria that were utilized when Nelson was hired.
“I think the process we followed last time was successful. By that, I mean I ended up hiring someone who did the job for us,” said McGuire. “Whoever you hire, you want to have them share our vision of the direction we want the department to go in.”
In the meantime, Douglas Hoyt will remain in his role as interim police chief.
“I’m not about to pack up and leave,” Hoyt said.
McGuire said he has been in weekly contact with Nelson since he took his initial leave of absence and that he expects those conversations to continue.
“He offered to help out wherever he could in the transition,” McGuire said. “In fact, he’ll be making other trips up here.”
Nelson praised the town and the police department, and expressed regret that he won’t be able to finish the job he started.
“I can’t say enough about the town of Williston,” Nelson said. “I’m just disappointed I didn’t get a chance to put more time in. That’s my biggest disappointment in this whole thing.”
While he recovers from the aftereffects of chemotherapy and awaits what he hopes will be an encouraging prognosis in April, Nelson said he will spend as much time as he can with family.
“I kind of realized what my priorities are in life right now, and my family’s at the top of the list,” Nelson said. “Right now, every day that I get to spend with my family is just a great day, and that’s what I’m going to be doing.”