Our Opinion: Ten years in, Wynn is officially chief

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."

That line may have worked for Juliet when explaining away Romeo's problematic surname, but names and titles are extremely important in top-down organizations like the Pittsfield Police Department, which has been commanded for the past 10 years by an "acting" chief, thanks to politics and the arcane rules of the civil service program.

It isn't as though Acting Police Chief Michael Wynn wasn't deserving of having the temporary designation dropped once and for all. He has proven himself on the job over the past decade and his name topped the list of internal candidates for the job after a civil service assessment.

Chief Wynn — which is what we should call him as of today, thanks to his confirmation by a City Council vote at last night's meeting — has been warming up in the nomenclature bullpen for the last decade due to a combination of previous mayoral administration policies as well as a regulation in civil service rules (Eagle, November 28.) Until Mayor Linda Tyer came along, Pittsfield mayors were reluctant to appoint a permanent chief through the civil service program — presumably because it's much more difficult to oust a civil service official, who no longer serves at the pleasure of a town's chief executive and whose position is protected by legal procedures. Evidently, Ms. Tyer, after Chief Wynn's years of honorable and dedicated service, feels no reservations about according him such status.

Moreover, as Ms. Tyer put it, "It's vital for the chief of police to be properly authorized in the eyes of the officers — right from the patrolmen up through the command staff." And therein lies the crux: The word "acting," even after a decade, carries with it the implication that the chief's job is somehow tenuous. With the imprimatur of city leadership, and with the requisite authority conferred upon him, it will be easier for Chief Wynn to run an urban police department at a time when the challenges are many and the resources are relatively few because of monetary realities..

This long-overdue appointment would have been made a year ago had the Civil Service Commission not rejected the results of Chief Wynn's exam because its results were out of date — essentially a bureaucratic snafu. The important thing is that this situation has been rectified and the "uncertainty and instability" of the last 10 years the chief referred to is over.

It's also time to elevate Acting Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski to permanent status. Its true he's only served seven years as acting chief, but it probably wouldn't destroy the republic to fast-track him.


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