SOUTHWICK — Select Board members on April 1 chose Lt. Rhett Bannish to replace Southwick Police Chief Robert Landis, who is retiring at the end of June.

Bannish was chosen after he and Detective Sgt. Tom Krutka spent nearly two hours answering a series of questions posed by board members Douglas Moglin, Jason Perron and Diane Gale. Both candidates are current members of the Southwick Police Department.

Bannish’s responses leaned heavily on the training he’s received since being promoted to lieutenant in 2021 in handing administrative tasks such as budgeting, personnel management and union matters.

Krutka, who started his career at the department as a patrol officer in 2004 before being appointed as the handler for K-9 “Jax” in 2007, and as a sergeant in 2017, highlighted the experience and skills he developed fighting crime.

Krutka also admitted that if selected chief, it would be a learning experience.

“There are some things I’ll have to learn … and I’m willing to do that,” he said.

Perron, who is a police officer in Westfield, said he had been undecided between the two candidates before the interviews.

“After observing the interviews, I was definitely swayed. Coming from my expertise, there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on. A lot of things I had to review, a lot of things I had to talk to people about,” Perron said before making the motion to appoint Bannish.

Gale said Bannish was a strong choice. Like Perron, she said she “talked to a lot of people about on this … got a lot of input … he definitely has the most experience … both [are] equally dedicated and we’re blessed for that,” Gale said before seconding Perron’s motion.

Like his colleagues, Moglin said there had been “a lot of conversations with a lot of members of the department.” He also said the town was lucky to “have a great department and a great bench, and we’re going to need to continue with that.”

In Southwick, the lieutenant is the second-in-command to the police chief. Three sergeants serve under the lieutenant and over the patrol officers.

Little was said about internal police records, reported last month in The Westfield News, that show Bannish was written up by two former chiefs, for violating the Fourth Amendment rights of two arrestees, and for “neglect of duty” in a separate incident.

“As someone who’s been through this process at different levels, I know what it takes to get these posts,” said Perron. “That being said, people learn from mistakes, mistakes are made and if they are a learning tool, people can be redeemed.”

Before the interviews, Moglin asked the dozens of people in the audience whether they had comments, and none did.

Before the appointment, Bannish’s annual salary was $113,334, which is includes a base of $90,667 with an educational bonus — he has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice — of $22,667.

Landis’ annual salary is $124,356. Moglin said Bannish’s salary as chief would be negotiated as part of his employment contract.