Contract inked, Wood set to take reins as new North Adams police chief

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NORTH ADAMS — The city has inked a three-year contract with its new police chief.

Jason Wood has agreed to a starting salary of $87,500, locking in the city's top police officer until 2022.

"I'm just looking forward to getting to work," said Wood, who will officially take his post as the city's next police chief at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

After more than 15 years with the department, Wood was selected by Mayor Thomas Bernard earlier this month to replace former Chief Michael Cozzaglio. He is set to be sworn in privately on Wednesday, but a public ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Brayton Elementary School.

Cozzaglio retired after 32 years with the department in February, but has stayed on in an interim basis while the city searched for his successor.

Wood was hired as a full-time officer in 2003, became a sergeant in 2014 and was appointed as an acting lieutenant in 2017. He officially became a full-time lieutenant earlier this year, shortly before he was selected as the next chief.

The contract will renew for a fourth year automatically, unless either the city or Wood signals a desire to renegotiate the terms at least six months before the deal is set to expire. Should he not be reappointed as chief, Wood would have the right to return to his position as lieutenant.

Bernard chose to negotiate a contract with Wood directly, outside of the city's classification and compensation plan, as is his right under Massachusetts law, according to the city's labor attorney.

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"It became very clear early on in the discussion of salary, before we even knew who the candidate was going to be, that this was something we wanted to do," Bernard said. "With the terms under the law, these are positions I could negotiate [directly]."

Cozzaglio, who was employed under the classification and compensation plan, earned about $81,000, meaning Wood will earn more than his predecessor.

"It's a function of wanting to put this position where it was competitive with other communities, certainly," Bernard said."And part of this is the process of negotiation and the chief putting his interests forward."

Should he receive satisfactory performance reviews, Wood's salary is set to increase to $88,813 in his second year in the position and $90,145 in the third year. Regardless of the outcome of his performance reviews, his salary cannot decrease.

Wood beat out a field of more than 30 other candidates who applied for the job from around the country.

A search committee — members of which represented various factions of the North Adams community — was formed by Bernard and narrowed the initial field of applicants down to eight candidates who were interviewed by phone.

From there, three finalists were chosen for in-person interviews and daylong visits to the city, which included public interviews.

Wood made a simple case for himself as a candidate: He argued that, with his experience and leadership in the department, he is most familiar with the obstacles it faces and well-suited to lead it forward.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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