EGREMONT - Reena Bucknell, the town's suspended police chief, was fired by the Board of Selectmen on Monday after she declined to sign an agreement that would have paved the way for her departure. On the urging of Selectman Charles Flynn, the three-person board voted unanimously to fire Bucknell retroactive to Monday.
"We have tried our darndest on this issue, and we have disagreed on how to handle this particular person," Flynn said. "I do not believe this police chief has done this town justice. And there is more than enough data ... and other circumstantial evidence to terminate."
Bucknell has been on paid administrative leave since February following a vote of no confidence by the department's officers. She was not present at Monday's meeting.
An independent review identified multiple concerns with the department under Bucknell's leadership, including high turnover, training issues, antiquated police procedures, and improper follow through on grant application provisions.
Bucknell and the Selectmen met on Aug. 12 and reached a verbal agreement on her departure. The Selectmen told Bucknell she had until Sept. 20 to sign the contract, but on the day of the deadline they were told that her attorney was revising the agreement.
Board Chairman Bruce Turner proposed extending the deadline until Wednesday. But after Selectwoman Mary Brazie agreed to vote along with Flynn, Turner changed his mind.
"I thought we worked in good faith and at least what I thought it was a good agreement," said Selectwoman Mary Brazie before the vote. "I am very disappointed and frustrated to still be at this point and not have a written agreement signed."
Brazie said the town wouldn't be responsible for a severance package because Bucknell does not have a contract with the town.
In Bucknell's absence, Stockbridge Police Officer Brian Shaw has served as the interim part-time police chief. Shaw's long- term employment with the department is expected to be discussed in October.