PITTSFIELD -- It has been a week of change in South Berkshire County law enforcement this past week.
Three new chiefs of police have been hired in Stockbridge, Lee and Egremont.
For the record, the new head honchos are Brian Shaw in Egremont, Jeff Roosa in Lee, and William Eaton in Stockbridge.
I don't think there has been such a change in leadership in law enforcement in decades. Certainly not in my term with the old Berkshire Courier and The Eagle.
I've had the pleasure of working with both Shaw and Roosa and I have a great deal of respect for both men.
I've found both to be serious without being cynical, pragmatic without being vindictive and calm in a crisis. I will miss my annual conversation with Shaw at the annual Mercy Sunday Mass on Eden Hill, but at least I'll still be able to talk high school football with Roosa when I stop by the Lee station.
I do not know the new chief in Stockbridge. But he has a huge advantage in that the old chief in Stockbridge is Richard Wilcox, who has forgotten more about the Town of Stockbridge than most people know.
Knowing Wilcox, I suspect he will be happy to offer any suggestions or advice to Eaton. But he won't volunteer it. He understands the dynamics of being a new chief in a town with the incumbent old one still around.
These changes are not really related. I don't see anything in common between them.
And I don't think that residents of any of the towns will see any major changes in law enforcement tactics.
One of the things that has happened in Berkshire County over the years is that departments are much more consistent in their approach to dealing with criminal activity. The reason is that these towns have to work together on so many aspects of the law, that the approach for most of them, if not all of them, is to try to have similar philosophies.
But it's interesting that Lee hired from within, Egremont hired an outside chief with local ties (Shaw is an Egremont native), and Stockbridge hired what some might term "an outsider" (Eaton is from Rhode Island).
Time will tell how successful these transitions will be. I have no predictions, because in addition to having dissimilar philosophies, the three towns in question also have dissimilar demographics.
In my opinion, I will say that it helps to know the landscape, both politically and enforcement-wise. It is, particularly in the case of small towns like Egremont and Lee, advantageous to know the players, so I think Shaw and Roosa have that going for them.
On the other hand, hiring someone who is from another department in another part of New England precludes, at least in theory, the appearance of favoritism.
This is always helpful in a town like Stockbridge, where second-home owners co-exist, at times uneasily, with the year-round residents.
The one thing Wilcox was very good at was being fair to everyone. Or at least making sure it seemed that he was fair to everyone.
There was little controversy with Eaton's hiring. A group of town residents believed that the Selectmen should have hired someone from the town. A reasonable point.
But I believe that the Selectmen understood that a local hire would always be judged against the very high standards set by Rick Wilcox. At least someone from outside the Berkshires might have a better chance to succeed.
So we'll see.