Sunday January 20, 2013

HINSDALE -- Nancy Daniels loves her hometown and she wants to keep it safe.

Now she has the chance to have a big impact on the safety of her friends and neighbors. Daniels was appointed Wednesday to the permanent, full-time position of Hinsdale police chief.

"It’s a major honor and quite an accomplishment," said Daniels, 48, from behind the chief’s desk at the Hinsdale Police Station. "I’ve lived here all my life, so I know everybody and I think that’s an asset."

Daniels, who is also a certified emergency medical technician, worked as an EMT in Hinsdale before then-Police Chief Mark Green convinced her to tryout a part-time job as a town police officer. That was in 1999, 13 years ago.

Since then, Green was sent to jail for six months in a larceny case that snagged two other Hinsdale officers. Then Christopher Powell resigned the chief’s post in 2010 after the department was restructured. And in June 2012, former chief Christian Pedoty resigned after being assaulted by a girlfriend, who was serving as a police officer in Peru at the time.

As the senior police officer in the department, Daniels was appointed officer-in-charge last June to run the department while the Select Board decided how to fill the chief’s chair.

"We were definitely looking for someone who has a positive outlook and does things the right way," said David Kokindo, chair of the Hinsdale Select Board.


Advertisement

When Daniels took the reins of the department, Kokindo said, "She just kind of took charge and got things set up. I was impressed with how she handled herself in different situations and the direction she took the police department. Even residents of the town were impressed."

It became clear to the select board after a few months that they need look no further.

"Here’s someone who’s lived in town all her life and definitely knows how to carry that load," Kokindo said. "She understands the job and the people that she’ll be serving. It became apparent that maybe we didn’t need to worry about the search [for a new police chief]. I think she’ll do just fine."

The full-time position carries with it the responsibility to patrol full time, just like any of other six part-time police officers in the department. In addition, she is responsible for all the administrative duties it takes to run a small-town police department.

Daniels said she tries to approach each individual with respect, and goes into every situation with an open mind.

"As long as we do our job and everybody goes home safely, I’m happy," Daniels said.

Among the job requirements is attending a full-time police academy -- a physically and mentally challenging six-month training process. Daniels expects to start at the academy this fall, and has already started with dietary changes and physical training.

Daniels has three grown children and two grandchildren living in town. She said her family is thrilled with her appointment. In fact, her stepfather is especially proud -- he once served as a sergeant in the department.

"I have a vested interest in keeping this town safe," she said. "And as chief, you’re never really unavailable, and you never know what to expect."

Daniels says that having been in the department over the past decade has given her valuable knowledge and experience.

"I’ve never been a quitter, but I’ve been through several police chiefs. It has not been an easy road," she said.

Someone who is also familiar with the road to the chief’s chair is Egremont Police Chief Reena Bucknell, the first female police chief in Berkshire County. Daniels is only the third female chief in the county.

Bucknell has worked on a case or two with Daniels in the recent past.

"She’s been very professional," Bucknell said. "From what I’ve seen in the past she’s just been wonderful."

Like Daniels, Bucknell doesn’t see this appointment as a gender issue.

"If you’re capable of doing a good job, gender should not matter, and in this case it doesn’t," Bucknell said. "So I’m glad for her and I’m glad for Hinsdale. She’ll make a fine chief."

Daniels hopes to bring tstructure and stability to the department, she said.

One of the things the Select Board hopes she brings to the job is longevity, Kokindo said.

That’s a goal Daniels shares with the board.

"Hopefully, I’ll be here in this job until I’m so old I can’t do it anymore," she said.

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford