CHESHIRE — The town’s new police chief is home grown.
The Select Board on Tuesday night unanimously chose Cheshire Police Sgt. Michael Alibozek to succeed outgoing Chief Timothy Garner, who is retiring after spending nearly 40 years with the department.
Pending contract negotiations, Alibozek could earn between $65,000 and $80,000 annually, according to board Chair Michelle Francesconi. He will serve on a full-time basis; Garner was a part-time chief.
“I’m excited by the opportunity,” he told The Eagle on Wednesday. “In replacing [Garner] I know I have big shoes to fill.”
Alibozek, an Adams resident, was among eight applicants for the job and one of two finalists the board interviewed two weeks ago. The other finalist was Josh Dufresne, from Belchertown, who is currently assistant director of public safety at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley.
Francesconi says the board expects Alibozek will maintain the department’s good relations with the public created under Garner’s leadership.
“Mike has embraced community policing. He knows the people and they are comfortable with him from the feedback I get from the residents,” she said.
Alibozek is proud of the relationship he has with townspeople and wants to educate them on the importance of the local police.
“Just last night [Tuesday] we recovered a gun and had two assaults,” he said. “A lot happens in this town that doesn’t make the news.”
One key advantage Alibozek had, according to Francesconi, is his 13 years of experience in municipal law enforcement. He served as a part-time officer with the Lanesborough and Cheshire departments before becoming a full-time sergeant in Cheshire in 2017.
Dufresne has primarily spent the last 20 years at various times working for campus police at Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Smith colleges.
Alibozek also brings extensive knowledge of emergency medical care, having been an EMT and, as of 1998, a paramedic who has worked for three Berkshire-area ambulance services.
“His medical knowledge is something that sticks with you,” Francesconi said. “It will be very valuable to the department.”
Alibozek will command a police force of one full-time officer and five part-timers serving a town of roughly 3,500 residents.
Francesconi has noted that three of the part-timers are taking the mandatory academy training necessary for the officers to remain employed under the state’s police reform. She added that the town will eventually hire another full-time officer.
And she said Alibozek’s full-time status will make the chief’s job more effective.
“[Alibozek] will have more time to connect with other local chiefs and help with additional coverage,” she said.