New police chief is ‘happy to return’
Greenfield Town Clerk Maureen Winseck swears in Robert Haigh Jr as the new Chief of Police in Greenfield on Friday afternoon.
Greenfield Town Clerk Maureen Winseck swears in Robert Haigh Jr as the new Chief of Police in Greenfield on Friday afternoon. Recorder/Paul Franz
GREENFIELD — Just before 3:10 on Friday afternoon, the town swore in and welcomed its new permanent Civil Service police chief, who promised to bring integrity, honesty and leadership to the community and stability to the town’s police department.
“When I left here in 2002, I never imagined that I’d be back in this position,” said Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh, who served as Orange’s police chief since 2012. “I love the pride and honor of wearing this uniform.”
Haigh said manpower, budget and resources are going to be some of the issues he’ll be addressing over the next few months.
He stood before his force, town and business leaders, Mayor William Martin, the town’s Public Safety Commission and residents as he promised to serve the community.
More than 60 people attended the mid-afternoon event.
“This is a special day for Greenfield,” said Martin. “It’s a special day for the department and for the Public Safety Commission, also.”
Haigh said he looks forward to starting in the new position first thing Monday morning.
“I plan to build a solid working relationship with the department,” he said. “I’m happy to return.”
Haigh began his career in law enforcement as a patrolman in Greenfield in 1999. Many of those working in the department today worked with Haigh then.
Provisional Capt. Joseph Burge, who served the town as its provisional chief for the past year, said he is looking forward to working with Haigh.
“This is wonderful and I’m excited,” said Burge. “The stability is going to be really good for the department.”
Det. Lt. Daniel McCarthy echoed Burge’s sentiments and said the department and town are going to benefit from having a solid, permanent Civil Service police chief.
“We’re going to find out what his vision is and we’re going to carry it through the ranks,” said McCarthy. “We all need to be on the same page.”
Haigh said he plans to be a recognizable face in the community. He said he plans to be a good citizen and friend to Greenfield, and he thanked the mayor for his confidence and support.
Public Safety Commission Chairman Gary Longley congratulated Haigh publicly and told him the commission looks forward to working with him.
When asked what the first thing is he plans to do, Haigh joked and said, “Figure out my computer.”
He said he will hold a meeting Monday morning with his upper-command staff, share his vision, get to know all of his staff and get input from everyone in the department.
Haigh said he expects serving in Greenfield will be much like serving in Orange.
He said the two towns have very similar issues and some of the same dynamics, except that Orange had them on a smaller scale.
Orange is a town of just under 8,000 residents, while Greenfield has about 18,000.
He said the department will be looking at how to attack problems like the ones the town has seen in Hillside Park in recent months, including drug dealing and vandalism.
“I’ll be looking at the budget,” said Haigh. “I’m always going to advocate for more officers and more money, but I also believe you have to justify your requests.”
Haigh said he doesn’t believe that throwing money at problems necessarily makes them go away.
Haigh grew up in Orange and graduated from Ralph C. Mahar Regional School. In 2002, he began in Orange as a school reserve officer and later became a detective, a sergeant, an officer in charge and, finally, chief in May 2012.
Haigh is Greenfield’s first permanent police chief since former Chief David Guilbault retired for health reasons in September 2011.