To the editor: As former chief of probation in Berkshire Superior Court, I have watched Chief Probation Officer Alf Barbalunga, candidate for Berkshire County sheriff, serve Berkshire County with integrity for the past 25 years.
For many years, Alf managed the Berkshire County Community Corrections Center (Community Justice Support Center), which helped to provide education and substance abuse treatment for inmates and probationers, and he is the only sheriff candidate who has worked as a line correctional and jail officer and was in good standing in multiple unions.
In 2007, Alf saw the growing opiate problem and created and implemented the Berkshire Partnership in Care Pilot Program with Berkshire Health Systems to help addicts on probation with medically assisted treatment. This program was successful for two years and led the way for the methadone clinic in Pittsfield.
While chair of the Pittsfield School Committee, Alf administered and managed the $67 million annual Pittsfield Public Schools operating budget, overseeing 1,200 educational employees and 5,500 students, voting against pay raises for executives while funding educational priorities. He also served on the Pittsfield Community Development Board for 14 years. Over his eight years as president of the Massachusetts’s Chief Probation Officers’ Association, Alf increased the diversity of its executive leadership from 28 percent who were non-white men to 69 percent, including Black, Hispanic and Asian representation, and he hired the first female probation officer in the Southern Berkshire jurisdiction.
Alf’s most recent awards include the Chief Probation Officer Advocacy Award, presented in May; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Trial Court Cultural Diversity Certificate of Appreciation, awarded in both December 2021 and October 2020; and, from 1997 to 2021, he never utilized any employment sick time and was awarded the Excellent Attendance Badge annually.
It's time for change. When it comes to integrity and experience, I support Alf Barbalunga for Sheriff.
Clifford J. Nilan, Pittsfield