ADAMS -- Selectmen went local by appointing town native Richard Tarsa Jr. as the new chief of the Adams Police Department in a 3-2 vote Wednesday night.
Tarsa, a 29-year veteran of the department, beat out two other finalists who interviewed for the spot in recent weeks -- Attleboro native and federal agent Scott Heagney, and police Sgt. Michael Bennett, of Templeton.
"To me, we have a local guy who's capable of being police chief," said Selectmen Chair John Duval. "... He's been the acting police chief for the last several months and from what I've seen he's done a good job, so I support Rick Tarsa."
Tarsa has served as interim chief since former chief Donald Poirot retired on April 26.
Selectman Joseph Nowak, who joined Duval and Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington in supporting Tarsa, said he also felt Tarsa's work as interim chief made him the right choice.
"My compassion tells me that someone who's put so much time into this community deserves to be the chief," he said.
Selectmen weren't unanimous in this view.
"I really feel we need to put that aside and say, ‘Who is the best individual to be Adams' police chief?'" Selectman Michael Ouellette said.
He and Selectman Richard Blanchard saw Heagney as the clear choice.
"I believe Scott Heagney would be an exceptional resource not just for Adams, but for all of Berkshire County," Ouellette said.
Heagney has a masters degree in law enforcement, and has experience on the Franklin Police Department as a lieutenant and as a federal agent in New York since 2001. He told Selectmen he'd completed more than 100 special training courses during his interview.
Ouellette said Heagney scored almost perfect on a spreadsheet he devised while weighing the candidates.
On the spreadsheet, Ouellette, an engineer, rated each of the three candidates in various categories based on their experience, education and responses to Selectmen's questions. Bennett scored 73, Tarsa 70 and Heagney 99, Ouellette said.
Nowak and Harrington respectively identified Heagney as "definitely the most educated and perhaps the most bright" and "clearly the most impressive" in terms of career experience in discussions during the meeting.
However, Ouellette's motion for the town to hire Heagney, supported by Blanchard, was shot down.
"If that's going to be our policy -- that all we do is hire from within -- I don't know why we would post the job to outside candidates," Ouellette said. "Why open it up to the outside world? ... Then the best candidates come out and we get a best candidate only to say, ‘We're not choosing you; we're hiring from within.'"
The town began accepting applications before Poirot's retirement. A search committee composed of five local leaders culled the three finalists from the roughly 20 resumes they'd received.
Tarsa will take on the position pending contract negotiations with the town in the coming weeks, Duval said.
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