Stockbridge Police Chief Eaton is candidate for Townsend job

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TOWNSEND — Stockbridge's police chief is the sole candidate for the top police post in Townsend.

Robert Eaton was the unanimous choice of the Police Chief Screening Committee and an informal residents' committee that interviewed three candidates on Tuesday.

Eaton returned to Townsend on Friday morning for a more in-depth interview with the Screening Committee. The 9 a.m. meeting was canceled because it was not posted in accordance with the state's Open Meeting Law.

Interim Town Administrator James Kreidler initially said he did not believe the meeting needed to be posted because it was a continuation of a previously posted meeting. Upon further review of the law at the request of a Sun reporter Friday morning, Kreidler canceled the meeting and decided to have Eaton meet individually with committee members.

Then, Eaton and Kreidler agreed it would be best to wait until a meeting could be scheduled for next week, and to have it properly posted.

In light of other recent Open Meeting Law complaints against the town, Eaton said he felt it is in the best interest of the integrity of the process to wait for a public interview with the whole committee.

"I look forward to further discussion on the available position as chief of police," he said.

Eaton has been employed as Stockbridge police chief for two years, and has one year left of his contract there. On Monday, the Stockbridge Board of Selectmen renewed his contract for three more years.

Eaton said Stockbridge Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden was aware he had applied for the Townsend job, but he wasn't sure if the town's selectmen knew.

At least two of the Stockbridge selectmen said they did not.

"I found out about it through the online Eagle article," said Selectboard Chairman Charles Gillett. The report from The Eagle's sister paper, the Lowell Sun, was posted on Friday.

"I was personally never made aware of it," said Selectman Charles "Chuck" Cardillo. "I am confident that a meeting with the Selectmen, town administrator and police chief will clear up any confusion."

Marsden declined to comment on the situation. Eaton could not be reached by The Eagle by late Friday afternoon.

Eaton also worked at the Smithfield, R.I., Police Department in Rhode Island from 1990 to 2013, beginning as a patrol officer and leaving as a captain.

According to the terms of his current Stockbridge contract, which has another year to run, there is a provision for him to submit his resignation in writing with 30 days notice to town officials.

It adds that the chief would be entitled to be paid for any accrued but unused leave, provided the notice is given.

Clarence Fanto contributed to this report.


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