Shutesbury looks to hire police chief from within

  • Town of Shutesbury

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2018 10:58:13 PM

SHUTESBURY — After negotiations with an outside candidate fell through last month, town officials are looking to hire Officer Dan Fernandes as the next police chief, with a public interview scheduled for the next Selectboard meeting.

Fernandes, 29, has served as the Police Department’s officer in charge (OIC) since July 16. Fernandes will serve as the department’s ranking officer until Sept. 30, according to Town Administrator Rebecca Torres.

“I am excited in trying to move forward with the town,” Fernandes said.

He said the past two months as OIC has “been a good learning experience and it’s been nice to work with people who have your best interest in mind.”

Sgt. Wendy Masiuk served as officer in charge after former chief Thomas Harding’s retirement on July 1 for about two weeks. She resigned from the OIC position, according to Torres.

“The Selectboard felt that (Fernandes) was the person that should be moving into the police chief position, and a more in-depth interview will be continuing that process,” Torres said Thursday.

Should the Selectboard decide to move forward with Fernandes after the interview on Wednesday, the town would conduct a background check on the candidate and then both parties would enter into contract negotiations.

Torres commended Fernandes for his ability to increase staffing in the department, getting members of the department to “work well,” and praised his communication abilities with other town officials in his time as officer in charge.

Fernandes joined the Shutesbury Police Department a year ago after serving with the Hadley Police Department for six years. He lives in Wilbraham.

“Dan was thrown into this position a bit abruptly, and his response to the work, the department, and the way he’s kept things going has been very thorough,” Torres said.

Torres said the parameters of a salary would be between $55,000 and $75,000.

Previously, the board had decided unanimously to offer the chief’s position to Jamie Berger, a detective sergeant with the Wayland Police Department. He was one of two finalists — the other being Masiuk — who were recommended by an 11-member Police Chief Hiring Committee, according to Torres.

In early August, during contract negotiations, the Selectboard and Berger reached an “impasse,” Torres said at the time.

“There was a mutual agreement that we hit an impasse and, unfortunately, that’s how it ended,” Torres said in August. She declined to provide details of the impasse because contract negotiations are confidential.

Torres said Masiuk was not considered for the chief job because she stepped down as OIC.

There was no search committee or police chief hiring committee put together before the Selectboard decided to interview Fernandes, according to Torres.

Harding moved to Arizona following his retirement, Torres said.

“Those shoes are pretty impossible to fill,” Fernandes said of Harding. “He is a great person, excellent leader, and he really understood the complexities of working as a chief in a small town. I learned a lot from him.”


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