LEE -- A veteran local police officer, part of the town's first canine unit, has become the new sergeant in the Lee Police Department.

Craig DeSantis replaces Jeffrey Roosa, who earlier this month was named the town's police chief succeeding ousted Police Chief Joseph Buffis.

The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night named DeSantis second in command based on the recommendation of Town Administrator Robert Nason and Roosa.

A civil service appointment, DeSantis was the top candidate of three vying for the position, according to the new chief.

"He's one of the smartest cops I know and we have worked well together in the past," Roosa said in an Eagle interview.

DeSantis deflected the praise.

"I'm proud to work for such a great department and honored to be its sergeant," he said.

DeSantis has spent his entire 18-year law enforcement career with the Lee police force. He a veteran member of the Berkshire County Special Response Team and since September the human half of Lee's newly formed canine unit.

DeSantis and his four-legged partner, a German shepherd named Kumar, assist in the search for suspects, missing persons, drugs and other evidence of a crime.

In addition to DeSantis, Lee police officers Ryan Lucy and Stephanie Burdick also were in the running for the sergeant's job.

"I think it was great we had three [local] candidates," said Selectman Patricia Carlino.

"We have no shortage of qualified personnel," added Roosa.

However, the 10-member department, excluding the chief, is down two officers due to Roosa's promotion and Buffis' dismissal. Roosa hopes to fill the vacancies early next year.

The change in leadership was triggered by Buffis' dismissal in August, amid allegations he billed the town $5,000 for his family cellphone plan.

Town officials said terminating Buffis' contract was separate from the federal indictment handed down this summer accusing him of extortion and money laundering.

Those charges are in connection with his handling of the case against a Lee couple accused of promoting prostitution and a local holiday charity he no longer manages.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
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