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Clayton sworn in as 1st female police captain

“I feel really fortunate to be in this position,” Clayton said after a special swearing-in ceremony at City Hall Wednesday morning. “I didn’t know if it was going to happen, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Craig Kirouac also took the oath of office as lieutenant at the ceremony which drew about 25 people. The Northampton native is a 21-year veteran of the department.

Clayton said she doesn’t look at the job “gender-wise,” something that Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz agrees with. But they also weren’t ignoring the significance of her promotion, with Sienkiewicz calling Wednesday an “historic day” for the department.

Clayton, Sienkiewicz noted, has lengthy qualifications for the job.

“Gender doesn’t matter to me; it’s the best person,” Sienkiewicz said.

Clayton, 52, has been a full-time police officer since 1983, and prior to that was one of the department’s original Police Explorers. During her tenure, she served in many positions: She was a patrol officer for may years, worked as a detective, and was promoted to patrol sergeant in 1998.

In 2010 she advanced to lieutenant, a position she held for four years before being named captain March 2 to replace Scott Savino. In her newest post, she takes over for Capt. Joseph Koncas, who retired last Friday after 36 years on the force.

Sienkiewicz said Clayton pioneered several domestic violence programs and trainings, both within the department and throughout the region. She’s also served as the department’s training coordinator and its property and evidence officer.

Clayton has a masters in criminal justice from Western New England College and completed the Command Training Program at Babson College.

Though she didn’t set out to be a gender trailblazer, Clayton has become just that during her time on the Northampton police force. In addition to being the first female captain, Clayton was also the department’s first female lieutenant and sergeant.

Clayton talked during brief remarks before colleagues and family about being honored to replace Koncas.

“I have really big shoes to fill,” Clayton said. “A legend has left and I’ll do my best to carry on in his name.”

Meanwhile, Kirouac moves into Clayton’s position, with his old job as staff sergeant being filled by Officer Greg Korepta, an eight-year member of the department. Korepta will be sworn in at a later date.

“I look forward to being a part of the future administration of this police department,” Kirouac said.

Kirouac moves into his new position as lieutenant after four years as sergeant. He’s also worked as a patrol officer and detective with specialization in sexual assaults and fire cases. He was the initial lead detective investigating the arsons of December 2009.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western New England University, as well as other national and state certificates and training. In addition to patrol supervisory duties, Kirouac is also the department’s community policing liaison.

For now, Clayton is serving the dual role of captain of administration and operations until the department hires a second captain to handle operations.

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