LEE -- Jeffrey Roosa is slowly but surely getting used to being the town’s new police chief.
The veteran local police officer was appointed to the position Tuesday night and sworn in Wednesday afternoon.
By Thursday morning, he had settled into the chief’s office at Town Hall overlooking Main Street.
Roosa says it’s been a whirlwind 48 hours.
"I walked in to the department [on Wednesday] and it felt strange," he said. "I haven’t felt this nervous since I became a patrol officer."
Despite the new-job jitters, the Lee native is confident he can lead the Lee Police Department he says has a good mix of veterans and newcomers.
"Everyone here has come up through our system and most learned the ropes by walking a beat on Main Street," Roosa said. "We also have a healthy respect for one another."
He said, "It’s not about being the boss, because everyone here knows what to do."
Roosa, married with three children, was named the new chief to lead the Lee, replacing former Police Chief Joseph Buffis, who was fired nearly four months ago by the Board of Selectmen. Buffis also faces a separate federal indictment for extortion and money laundering; he has denied the charges.
The three-member Board of Selectmen unanimously approved Roosa’s appointment by Town Administrator Robert Nason, who has the municipal authority to hire the police chief.
Roosa will earn an annual salary of just over $72,000. Buffis, a 33-year veteran of the Lee police force, was earning nearly $74,000 a year before he was fired amid accusations of improperly billing the town for his personal cellphone use.
Selectman David Consolati believes Roosa is the right person to lead the department in the post-Buffis era.
"He knows the community, knows the people and he has the support of the officers," Consolati said. "Some say he’s too young, but he’s been an officer a long time."
Roosa, 40, began his law enforcement career as an officer with the Sheffield Police Department in 1996. He joined the Lee Police Department in September 2001 and was named sergeant February 2012 to succeed Buffis.
Buffis was appointed chief in September 2011, replacing Ronald Glidden who held the post from 1994-2011 and has served as the interim chief until a permanent one was found.
Glidden will remain on board as a consultant for 20 working days over the next two to three months to assist Roosa and the department during the transition.
As a youngster, Roosa aspired to be a police officer after his family was struck by a drunken driver during an outing in Lenox more than 30 years ago. He remembers the state trooper helping him and his family deal with the emotional trauma of a serious car crash involving someone under the influence.
"That incident has stayed with me to this day," Roosa said. Lindsay
Lee’s new police chief cites former chiefs James McGarry of Sheffield and Glidden among his mentors during his 17-year law career. They both taught him the importance of taking additional law enforcement classes, training and never make the same mistake twice.
"I learned you had to crawl before you run," Roosa said.
Roosa oversees a municipal police department of 10 full-time officers, supervise five civilian emergency dispatchers and act as the town’s emergency management director. These areas account for a combined operating budget of $1.1 million.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.