EGREMONT — Police Chief Brian Shaw believes the transition to his successor, Tyler Race, will be a smooth one.
To be fair, it probably couldn't be much rougher than the last one.
Friday is Shaw's last day after a three-year stint as Egremont's chief. In 2013, he replaced longtime chief Reena Bucknell, who was fired by the board in the wake of a no-confidence vote from the town's full- and part-time officers. Technically, Bucknell was let go after she refused to sign a severance agreement with the town.
Shaw's three-year term was, by all accounts, a positive one. On Monday, when Race was hired, the selectmen lauded Shaw's professionalism and his ability to interact with town residents.
The board also had high marks for Race, at 26 one of the youngest chiefs in the state.
"I think [the transition] will be very smooth," said Race, sitting with Shaw in the department's main office on Thursday morning. "I don't think we'll have any problems."
"It was a little tougher for me," said Shaw. "I was coming over from Stockbridge, and a lot of the guys didn't know me very well. Tyler has been here for six years."
Shaw, 56, said his final plans are not yet set. He expects to take a few weeks to kick back a little. And then, he said, he wants to travel the country.
"I'm just going to go," he said of his plans. "I haven't made up my mind on everything yet."
Shaw, a 1979 graduate of Mount Everett Regional School, has worked for the town most of his life. Prior to being a police officer, he worked for the Egremont Highway Department for several years. In 1984, he was appointed as a part-time officer to the town. He became full-time in 1986. He joined the Stockbridge Police Department in 1989.
Shaw retains a great respect for his former boss, former Stockbridge Police Chief Richard B. Wilcox.
"The most important thing Rick Wilcox ever said to me was that for police departments, it's all about perception," said Shaw. "Treat people well, treat them right, and they'll be happy."
"Both here and in Stockbridge," said Shaw, "a lot of the people we deal with are from outside the town. They may have different perspectives on police and police departments. So you have to treat them all with respect and listen to what they have to say. And hope they go home to wherever they are and say, 'Hey, that cop was a nice guy.' "
Race agreed completely. In fact, said Shaw, one of the reasons he recommended Race for the job was that the two men think a lot alike.
"I told the selectmen, 'If you like the way I do things, hire Tyler,'" said Shaw. "Because he does things the same way I do. Not because I do it that way, but because that the way he likes to do things."
Race's father, Thomas Race, was a part-time officer in Egremont. In tracing the origins of his interest in being an officer, Race recalled that his father would come home after a shift, "and "he'd have all these stories to tell. It sounded really interesting."
An honor student at Monument Mountain, after graduation in 2007, Tyler Race began his post-high school career working construction.
"I don't want to say it wasn't for me," he said. "But it's very hard work. I just didn't want to end up being 55 and dealing with joint pain for the rest of my life."
The police academy beckoned, and he graduated in 2009. He was appointed a full-time officer in Egremont the same year.
"I love working in this community," he said. "I love it here. When I joined the force, I thought, 'What better way to serve these people than to be a police officer?'
"When the chief's job opened up," he continued, "I figured, 'Why not?' I felt I was qualified. And it seemed like a good opportunity. I might not get another opportunity like this for another 20 years."
Race is, said Shaw, a worthy successor.
"He's a good leader, a great communicator," said Shaw of Race. "He's very knowlegable and he's sincere. I think he'll do very well."
Contact Derek Gentile at 1-413-496-6251.