Keep police policy open in Stockbridge
To the editor:
My first read in The Eagle is usually the letters section; I find it the best way to truly feel the pulse of the community. Two such letters, one on Nov. 27 by Mr. Hart of Stockbridge and the second on Dec. 4 by Mr. Coleman of Lenox, are the genesis of this missive.
Pertinent to the discussion are two articles referenced by the writers; the first addressed the Memorial Day races being moved from the Lenox/Stockbridge venue to Butternut. The second reference was to the recent counterfeiting spree on Main Street Stockbridge. They are connected by differing views on policing.
If Mr. Coleman, who stated his family owns a retail business in Stockbridge, read the Butternut piece he failed to embrace the fact that his business might have been negatively impacted by the Memorial Day events moving to Great Barrington. It's my feeling that the organizer of the event likely wanted to leave Stockbridge for a bigger venue but it was nonetheless compelling that when pressed for the reason his event was fleeing our town(s), he placed the blame squarely on the Select Board and specifically our police chief.
On the other hand, Mr. Hart, who longs for the bucolic days of Stockbridge past; must acknowledge those days are gone. However, his query is well-founded. He never questions the qualifications of Chief Eaton or his force; he has simply requested an open and informed discussion as the Select Board enters contract negotiations with Chief Eaton.
At the heart of both letters is the route the Select Board and chief have taken since February of 2014. Is the direction chosen correct and is the budget for the department correctly allocated? More importantly, are the tactics employed in our "quaint little town" the right ones? This writer says, "I think not."
Which brings me back to the unfortunate counterfeiting spree on Main Street. I can't help but wonder if the lack of police presence on Main Street was a root cause. I appreciate the efforts to stop speeders entering our town on Church Street or Route 7. However, if a Stockbridge officer was even occasionally walking the beat on Main Street (like the old days) instead of predictably lying in wait on Ice Glen, the perpetrators might have moved directly on to another town in search of an easier mark.
I am by no means advocating that Chief Eaton be replaced; he is clearly well qualified and I'm hoping he cares enough about Stockbridge to be here with his family for the long haul. However, there must be an educated discussion in the forums available to all of us. Go to the next Select Board meeting and offer your opinions on the future of our town; make certain the discussions on our police force are presented in an open forum.