Pioneer finds new resource officer

  • Heath Cummings, 37, of Northfield, is Pioneer Valley Regional School District's new resource officer, having started Oct. 10, 2017. —Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Heath Cummings, 37, is Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s new resource officer. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

NORTHFIELD — They say everything happens for a reason. That’s how Northfield Police Chief Robert Leighton feels about finding a replacement for Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s first School Resource Officer (SRO) Igor Komerzan.

Just over a week after Komerzan saw his last day on the job, having submitted his resignation in mid-September with plans to pursue carpentry, the Northfield Police Department has refilled the position with Officer Heath Cummings.

Leighton said Cummings first came to him seeking a position as a part-time officer, leading to his appointment by the Selectboard on Oct. 3. However, Leighton has known Cummings for about 15 years, and said it didn’t take long to see he was well-liked by other officers and would be a good fit for the SRO position.

“I would never have imagined a month ago I’d have to fill this spot with somebody, but it seems like everything’s working out,” Leighton said.

Cummings, 37, has lived in Northfield for five years, having grown up in Erving. In addition to serving as a part-time officer for Erving and Whately, he worked at Deerfield Academy in campus security from 2004 to 2006, and was head of security and facilities for Amherst College’s Museum Security Department from 2006 until 2016.

Having also coached the newly formed flag football program at Northfield Elementary School, Cummings said he enjoys working with youth and saw becoming an officer in Northfield as a way to “do something extra for Northfield.”

“It just seemed to really work out with the qualifications I had,” he said of becoming the SRO. “It’s up my alley, and in my backyard.”

Cummings, a graduate of Turners Falls High School, started in law enforcement in 1999. An Erving police officer who was a family friend showed Cummings what the job was like when he was around 17 years old, setting him on his path.

“I just wanted to go out in the community,” Cummings began, “and make the world a better place.”

Leighton said for now, Cummings is temporarily filling the SRO position through the end of the school year. In June, he plans to re-evaluate the circumstances.

“I am hopeful this becomes a permanent position for Heath,” Leighton said.

Cummings’ first full day on the job was Tuesday, although he did get introduced to some of the students Saturday as a dunk tank volunteer at the school.

“Definitely the most unusual first day of work I’ve ever had!” Cummings joked.

As SRO, Cummings hopes to regularly visit all five district schools and become certified to implement the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program at each elementary school, as Komerzan had planned. He also hopes students will feel comfortable stopping by his office, looks forward to passing on his expertise in law and guiding the students, and plans to become a fixture of a community, especially by attending school sports games.

Komerzan, Cummings said, set the bar high for what Pioneer’s SRO should be.

“Everyone I’ve talked to just tells me how much he was liked,” Cummings said. “That’s the benchmark I’m striving for, and if I could surpass that, that’d be great.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257