Egremont board will ask interim police chief to stay on full-time
EGREMONT -- Interim Police Chief Brian Shaw will be asked by the Board of Selectmen to serve as the long-term replacement for the suspended police chief, Reena Bucknell.
The Board of Selectmen on Monday approved an article for a Sept. 30 special town meeting that would continue Shaw's pay as the part-time chief through Dec. 31 and then extend him full-time employment through the current fiscal year. The $42,000 allocation would require a majority of voters to approve.
Shaw, who was at the meeting, has not yet accepted the position, and he said he will wait to be approached by Selectmen before providing an answer.
"He grew up here ... and he cut his teeth under one of the most respected police chiefs in the county," Selectman Charles Flynn said in support of Shaw's hiring.
Board of Selectman Chairman Bruce Turner confirmed Shaw's continued employment means Bucknell, the town's former police chief of more than 15 years, will not resume her leadership role with the department as she's previously requested. Bucknell, who remains on paid administrative leave, was suspended in February following a vote of no confidence from the department's then seven full- and part-time officers.
Earlier this month, Selectmen and Bucknell agreed in a closed-door session to terms of her future with the department, but the terms will not be disclosed until the agreement has been signed.
"She's not in the picture. We reached a settlement," Turner said after the meeting.
Hired part-time in May, Shaw, a longtime veteran with the Stockbridge Police Department -- and who continues to serve full-time with the department -- will be asked to take over a department that has undergone significant upheaval.
Shaw was praised by the Selectmen for his familiarity and longtime service in the South County region and also for building morale within the Egremont Police Department. Selectmen said Shaw's admirable job means the town will forgo a formal hiring process and the solicitation of applications that could cost hundreds or several thousand dollars.
In March, the town contracted Pomeroy Resources Inc. to review the department and its report identified multiple concerns, including high turnover, police officer training issues, outdated police procedures and improper followthrough on grant applications.
Bucknell has defended her stewardship of the department point-by-point, which has included two, at times contentious, public meetings between Selectmen and the former chief.
Shaw also stirred some tumult when he recommended to Selectmen that officers Jeremy Pilone and Hans Carlson not be re-appointed to the department. Pilone, the former acting chief, would be fired from the department after he backtracked from an original commitment to resign following a leadership conflict. Carlson would retain his position, but on probation, despite "police procedural concerns."
Following the vote on Tuesday, Selectwoman Mary Brazie said town officials were unsure what would happen if voters did not approve the article to fund Shaw's position. The town also will examine whether there is room in the town's current budget to fund Shaw's position, Brazie said.
The town has $58,049 in state community policing funding from 2009 that was never appropriately allocated according to grant provisions. The town has asked the state whether it could use those funds to pay for the position, Brazie said.
Brazie also expressed support for Shaw to stay on.
"I have thought the police have good morale and they are working as a team. And why ruin it?" Brazie said. "Why cause more upheaval at this point?"
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