STOCKBRIDGE -- The town will roll out the red carpet for its new police chief this Friday, with a reception set to follow the public swearing-in ceremony for Robert M. Eaton Jr.
The former captain of the Smithfield, R.I., force began work here five weeks ago after a private swearing-in at the Town Offices on Feb. 3.
The entire community is invited to the gathering in the Town Offices gymnasium, 50 Main St., at 6:30 p.m. Friday, said Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden.
"There have been no surprises; it's been a seamless transition for me," said Eaton on Monday, crediting the recently retired chief, Richard "Rick" Wilcox, for mentoring him and leaving everything in good order.
The gathering is part of Eaton's emphasis on community outreach. "I'm taking every opportunity to meet as many people as possible," he said.
Joining residents will be friends, co-workers and family members, including his wife Jean and son Carlton, a junior at Smithfield High School. After his graduation in June 2015, the family plans to join Eaton at a new home in the Stockbridge area.
Meanwhile, the chief said he is putting in 12- and 13-hour days, including several Saturdays, to get a handle on the department's administrative requirements while keeping an open door "to make myself available to people who come in."
"Things are running very smoothly," he said, "and we hope to continue that. The officers and I are getting to know each other.
With one open position on his five-member team of officers, Eaton said 23 applications have been received, and the pool is being narrowed through interviews and background checks.
His goal is to announce a candidate by mid-April; several officers from other Berkshire departments, as well as "specials" (reserves), are among the applicants.
"We want to hire the best candidate, based on skills, ability and knowledge," Eaton said. Full-time officers are required to complete Police Academy training and receive certification, if they haven't already done so.
As previously disclosed, Eaton also plans to reopen an active investigation into the unsolved homicide of New York City resident Jan Stackhouse, 52, on May 1, 2005. Her body was discovered on a remote country road in the Glendale section of Stockbridge.
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