HINSDALE -- A new police chief will be sworn in on Sunday -- shortly after community members have an opportunity to meet the longtime officer and instructor.

Mark L. Smith, 46, a veteran of the Granby Police Department, received high marks from the Hinsdale Police Chief Search Committee chosen to review candidates for the position.

The committee interviewed six candidates, and sent three forward to be interviewed by the Select Board, which was unanimous in choosing Smith.

"Having talked to different local police chief and law enforcement people, a lot of them seem to be in absolute disbelief that we got [Smith]," board Chairwoman Bonnie Conner said. "They said [Smith] could have picked and chose where he wanted to work."

The new chief will join members of the Select Board for a "meet and greet" event starting at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Wayne Walton Pavilion behind the fire station on Maple Street. Conner said he'll be sworn in shortly after that event.

Smith most recently served as a sergeant in Granby, where he worked for nearly 20 years, and has taught at the police academy in Springfield. He has worked closely with several branches of law enforcement and is a certified firearms instructor.

He also applied for chief positions in Lee and Stockbridge.

"He was the most qualified person; the guy's known as a straight arrow," said Raymond Bolduc, who chaired the search committee.

Charles Bassett, the town's interim police chief since former Chief Nancy Daniels was fired in January, is presently familiarizing Smith with the workings of the department on a part-time basis.

"He's met all of our officers at this time and is working transitionally with Charlie to get everything in order for the switch," Conner said.

Smith will assume a position that has historically has been marked by controversy in the town. Former chiefs have fallen to accusations of corruption and improper conduct, while the controversy over Daniels' termination reverberates to this day.

Many residents believe members of the board acted out of personal animosity when they fired Daniels, who was hired by a former Select Board.

Conner and Selectman William Goddard Jr. maintain they acted in the town's best interest by removing Daniels for failure to complete training the Massachusetts Police Training Committee requires of full-time chiefs. Bruce Marshall, the town's third selectman, supported Daniels.

Daniels has told The Eagle she still plans to pursue litigation against the town.

To reach Phil Demers:
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