Wednesday May 8, 2013

EGREMONT -- A veteran South County police officer has been tapped to temporarily lead the town’s embattled Police Department.

Brian Shaw of the Stockbridge Police Department will spend at least the next three months as Egremont’s interim police chief, in part to help investigate and possibly implement changes within the troubled police force, according to the Board of Selectmen.

For now, Shaw replaces Reena Bucknell, whom the Selectmen placed on paid administrative leave three months ago amid internal strife between the chief and the officers she oversees. Egremont police officer Jeremy Pilone had been serving as acting police chief since Bucknell, Berkshire County’s first female police chief, was relieved of her duties.

Shaw, who was hired on Monday by the Selectmen, will immediately begin to work about 20 hours a week, said board Chairman Bruce Turner.

Selectman Charles Flynn added that Shaw’s duties in Egremont won’t interfere with his full-time responsibilities in Stockbridge.

"Shaw is very straightforward and experienced," Flynn said in an Eagle interview on Tuesday. "He works for one of the finest police chiefs in [Richard] Wilcox in Stockbridge."

As Egremont’s interim police chief, Shaw will earn a $15,000 salary, funding approved by voters at Tuesday night’s special town meeting. The gathering preceded the annual town meeting held at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield.


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While the Selectmen hope Shaw can help stabilize the local police force, several residents and town officials at the special town meeting felt three months won’t be enough time.

"The $15,000 isn’t going to cover it," said Richard Allen.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Laura Allen said her five-member board didn’t issue a recommendation on the $15,000 salary, given the uncertainty of the town’s police force.

"It’s a department in flux and disarray," she said.

A consultant’s report last month found "financial oddities," police officer training issues and "antiquated policies and procedures" under Bucknell’s leadership of local law enforcement.

Consultant Robert J. Pomeroy suggested 20 ways to correct the problems he discovered during his review of the department’s operations and management.

Flynn says Pilone has implemented about 80 percent of those recommendations.

However, Pomeroy’s report doesn’t say how the Selectmen should handle Bucknell’s future with the department. The town’s police chief since 1998, Bucknell hasn’t commented on her status with the town.

At the annual town meeting, residents approved a fiscal 2014 operating budget of $3.55 million, or a $100,000 increase above the current spending plan of $3.45 million.

The town meeting was still discussing the 27 articles on the warrant at press time.

Eagle staff writer Tony Dobrowolski contributed to this story.