New Northfield police chief excited for shift to small-town policing

  • Northfield Police Chief Jon Hall is sworn in by Town Administrator Andrea Llamas on Dec. 6. Contributed Photo/Alex Meisner

News Editor
Published: 12/20/2021 3:08:17 PM
Modified: 12/20/2021 3:08:02 PM

NORTHFIELD — Growing up in a low-income family in Brattleboro, Vt., and later Turners Falls, Jon Hall remembers the positive interactions he had with local police officers. That experience, coupled with wanting to help people, shaped his decision to pursue policing as a career.

Dec. 6 marked Hall’s next step in his career, when he was sworn in as chief of the Northfield Police Department. The former lieutenant with the University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department said he had considered applying for a chief’s position for a while, when the opportunity presented itself in Northfield.

“It felt like it was a good time to make a move,” he said. “I wanted to work in a small town that was growing.”

Hall, who currently lives in Turners Falls, said he plans to move to Northfield with his two daughters, Avalyn, 9, and Quinn, 7, who attend Northfield Elementary School. Thanks to a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift Monday through Friday, as compared to his former 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift at UMass, he looks forward to being more involved in his daughters’ lives, such as going to their dance recitals and seeing them on and off the bus.

In his first two weeks on the job, Hall said Sgt. Alexander Pirozhkov has taken him under his wing. Pirozhkov served as acting chief following the retirement of former Chief Robert Leighton on July 8.

“It’s been great,” Hall, 40, said of his time with the Northfield Police Department this month. “The police officers here are all incredible, very professional. They’re serving this town well.”

The department consists of Hall, Pirozhkov, one full-time officer and 10 part-time officers. To illustrate the “incredible” work of his officers, Hall cited a few calls for service over the past two weeks:

■Officer Jakob Davidson helped locate a juvenile runaway in the early morning hours on a cold night.

■Part-time School Resource Officer Bill Kimball located a missing 16-year-old from Alabama and helped reunite them with their parents.

■Officer Oleg Cobileanschi arrested a fugitive from justice from Vermont facing charges including domestic assault and stalking.

Hall said working in a small community like Northfield provides a good opportunity to meet people, develop relationships and get to know people on a more personal level than he might at UMass, where students are continually arriving and graduating.

“I’d like to meet everyone,” Hall said, adding that he’s been visiting the school and local businesses to introduce himself. “I’m here to support ’em and listen to them. I definitely take constructive criticism well.”

After deciding to pursue policing in his teens, Hall earned his associate’s degree in criminal justice from Greenfield Community College, then a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Westfield State University. In the future, he said he’d be interested in getting a master’s degree in psychology.

“It’s applicable to what I’m doing now, but also later on in my life if I get another job, I’d like it to not be in law enforcement,” he explained. “I could see myself being a mental health counselor or something to that extent.”

His first job as a full-time police officer was in Brattleboro, Vt., in 2004. He started working at UMass in 2007, moving up through the ranks from patrol officer, to detective, to sergeant, and finally, lieutenant.

During his time at UMass, Hall experienced some interactive programs he’s interested in implementing in Northfield, such as a summertime youth adventure academy or a citizens’ police academy.

“Police academy citizens come in once a week and learn about constitutional and criminal law,” he explained, “everything from the equipment, to the calls that we go to, to the history of policing.”

Hall also said that while Northfield is “already doing a great job with community policing,” he’d like to “establish more community policing efforts, making sure the officers are interacting with the community, visible and approachable.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or sashline@recorder.com.


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