Otis Police ask for longer appointment for chief


OTIS -- The town's police department has stepped up on behalf of its police chief, Roberta Sarnacki, and are asking for her to receive a long-term appointment.

In a letter signed by the department's seven officers delivered to the Board of Selectmen at last week's public meeting, officers urged the chief's annual reappointment be extended to three years to "take away the politics."

"This letter wasn't to create waves, but to show we support our chief," Otis Police Sgt. Daniel Hamill told The Eagle during a phone conversation. "We feel this is a good option to create the stability we'd like to have."

The Board of Selectmen accepted the letter and deferred action for a later meeting, but Select Board Chairman Brian Crandall indicated the current system works.

"If the chief does a great job then she's not going anywhere," Crandall said during the meeting.

In 2009, Sarnacki was elected by the Board of Selectmen to become the part-time police chief.

She currently works full-time as a teacher. She also serves on the Select Board, and she's wrapping up her final year.

Sarnacki was surprised by the request, and she speculated the request was made by officers because they were unsure whether she would run for Select Board next year.

Sarnacki said she hasn't committed to a position, but it's likely she'll run for re-election.

"I think they want to de-politicize the position whether I run [or not]," Sarnacki said.

During the meeting, the department was represented by Sgt. Hamill and his father, Sgt. David Hamill.The department includes one full-time officer and six-part time staff, including the chief.

They praised Sarnacki as a skilled troubleshooter and good communicator who is easily accessible. They said that many surrounding towns offer multi-year appointments for their chiefs.

They said the extended appointment wouldn't prevent the Select Board from firing the police chief under just cause.

"If someone has a personal bias and they want to get rid of the chief, they just don't have to appoint her," Daniel Hamill said.

Hamill said he'd return at the next scheduled meeting on Nov. 5 to follow up.

The three-year appointment received the support of Sarnacki.

"I think it provides stability for the officers and security for everyone involved," Sarnacki said.

To reach John Sakata:
jsakata@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata


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