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Northfield sergeant offered acting chief job

NORTHFIELD — The Selectboard has decided who should step in for the town’s police chief when his contract ends next month.

The board unanimously voted to offer the job of acting police chief to Staff Sgt. Robert Leighton, who’s been with the department for 25 years.

“As the senior guy (in the department), I support Rob (Leighton) as acting chief,” said board member Jack Spanbauer.

Both Leighton and officer Scott Minckler had expressed interest in the job, according to Kathy Wright, board chairwoman. She said she would consider Leighton first, as the senior member of the department.

Minckler had served as acting chief when former chief Gary Sibilia retired in 2008, until current Chief Leonard Crossman Jr. was hired in January of 2010. At that time, said Spanbauer, Leighton did not want to serve as acting chief.

Crossman, 33, has had to have two reconstructive ankle surgeries in the past year, and said he would not seek to renew his contract, as the surgeries have left him unable to the fulfil patrol and call response duties of a working chief. His contract will expire Jan. 13.

Board member Dan Gray said he would support either Leighton or Minckler, the department’s only full-time officers besides the chief, for the position. He questioned whether the board should just go ahead and hire Leighton as Crossman’s permanent replacement.

“I understand that Rob would like a trial period, to see if things work for the town and himself,” said Wright.

The board had been considering bringing an outside firm in to search for a replacement chief at its Nov. 27 meeting.

Wright said she would like to defer the discussion on how to find a permanent police chief until after cementing the details of Leighton’s role as acting chief.

The board will begin to develop a contract for Leighton to serve as acting chief in an upcoming executive session of the board.

David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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