STOCKBRIDGE -- Four members of the town's police force are among nine semi-finalists vying to succeed longtime Chief Richard "Rick" Wilcox.
He is retiring when he turns 65 in February, as required by the state, after 28 years in the post and nearly 43 years in the department.
The town's search committee, headed by Selectwoman Deborah McMenamy, is beginning interviews this week with the applicants who were narrowed down from a pool of 36 candidates. That group was then cut to 15 who were asked to reply to essay questions -- 14 of them did so, said Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden.
No salary range was listed in ads for the post, which currently pays $88,400.
"We feel we have a good group of candidates," said McMenamy. She expressed optimism that a successor to Wilcox can be chosen no later than Christmas.
The nine applicants who have made it to the current phase of the search include Stockbridge officers Brian Shaw, Heidi Teutsch, Darrell Fennelly, all full-timers, and part-time officer Michael Stanton, McMenamy stated.
The other five include two from Western Massachusetts outside Berkshire County, and one apiece from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.
Following the interviews, McMenamy explained, three or four finalists will undergo a professional assessment by a team of evaluators headed by A. Wayne Sampson of Public Safety Consultants, based in Shrewsbury.
Sampson, a veteran of police administration and assessment, is the retired police chief of that town, a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and holds a doctorate in criminal justice.
The assessment team will set up real-time situations to gauge the applicants' responses, McMenamy said.
The final step for the finalists will be public interviews by the Select Board members, who would then choose a new chief.
McMenamy cited the town's search committee for its "thoughtful and insightful observations" during the process.
The group's members, all Stockbridge natives, are Town Moderator Gary Johnston; former business owner Stephanie Bradford; former teacher Tracy Weston; Richard Bradway, associate director of e-commerce and new media for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and J. Martin Salvadore, retired president of Wheeler & Taylor, Inc.
Among the town's police department candidates, Shaw is also serving through Dec. 31 as the part-time acting chief of the troubled Egremont police force.
The Select Board there has stated that he is in line for an offer to become full-time chief next year at a salary of about $62,000, succeeding Reena Bucknell. She was dismissed in September following a no-confidence vote by the town's officers that led to her placement on paid administrative leave last February. A follow-up study by consultants was critical of her leadership.
Shaw has been praised by Egremont town-government leaders for bringing stability to the police force.
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