Buckland preps for public engagement process in shared-policing plans

  • The Buckland Police Station at 69 Conway St. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 7/4/2022 3:19:06 PM
Modified: 7/4/2022 3:16:27 PM

BUCKLAND — The Police Department is entering a period of transition as it makes use of a $200,000 Efficiency and Regionalization grant, looks to accommodate additional uses of the Police Station and formalizes mutual aid agreements with other towns.

The grant, administered by the state’s Community Compact Cabinet, was awarded to Buckland and Shelburne in March to take steps toward sharing a police department. A July 8 meeting with consultants from the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management will discuss how the public engagement process will proceed.

“This is the process to discuss the public process,” Selectboard Chair Barry Del Castilho explained during a recent meeting.

Greg Bardwell, chief of the Buckland and Shelburne police departments, said when the grant award was announced in March that the new police reform laws mandating increased training for officers make it “extraordinarily difficult with current budgets to maintain staffing and coverage of our communities,” and this Efficiency and Regionalization grant will help the towns find new solutions for these financial hurdles.

“We are eager to move forward with the next steps ... to show that there’s a possibility for long-term sustainability,” he said at the time.

Health services office

Meanwhile, the department plans to welcome an office for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ Cooperative Public Health Service Health District into the Police Station at 69 Conway St. Only one full-time officer currently uses the space.

“The building is underutilized and the size of the building can accommodate additional uses,” Town Administrator Heather Butler said.

Cooperative Public Health Service Health District satellite offices have previously been located in Deerfield. However, because the Deerfield Selectboard recently voted to pull out of the district, officials are looking for a new space to store equipment and host meetings. The space at the Police Station would also be used to conduct satellite wellness checks and for emergency management.

Adding the health services office to the building will mean the Police Department needs to install an entry keypad, as well as a camera monitoring system. This additional security will be paid for by a section of the Efficiency and Regionalization grant for renovations.

Mutual aid

Additionally, the Selectboard voted for the Buckland Police Department to join the Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Agreement, which has been adopted by most western Massachusetts municipalities.

In an email to the board, Bardwell explained that the purpose of the agreement is “to establish a strategic working partnership to address public safety concerns including but not limited to: providing mutual aid for the member police departments because of terrorist or enemy action; natural disaster; unusual occurrence, including but not limited to fire, flood, storm, earthquake, landslide, aircraft accident, search or rescue operations; other natural or manmade caused incidents requiring exceptional police action; school or workplace violence; riot; mob action; civil disturbance; demonstration; urban insurgency; unsafe or impaired driving; police outside details; drug distribution; tactical operations; K-9; electronic and cybercrime; combating violent street gangs and associations; the pursuit and/or apprehension of suspected traffic violators; as well as any law enforcement operations that require more sophisticated investigation on a regionalized basis or any situation threatening the peace and tranquility in the parties’ jurisdictions.”

This is not the only mutual aid agreement Buckland is engaged in, having been in an agreement with neighboring towns for about a decade. According to Bardwell’s email, both agreements allow officers to “operate with full police powers.”

Contact Bella Levavi
at 413-930-4579 or


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