With official contract, Buckland and Shelburne sharing police chief

  • Police Chief Greg Bardwell, pictured at the Shelburne Police Station, is also the chief in Buckland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The Shelburne Police Station. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Police Chief Greg Bardwell, pictured at the Shelburne Police Station, is also the chief in Buckland. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2022 3:22:43 PM
Modified: 8/14/2022 3:19:18 PM

With a possible regionalized police department on the horizon, Buckland and Shelburne have reaffirmed their commitment to sharing the services of Police Chief Greg Bardwell through a new agreement.

Bardwell, who has been Shelburne’s police chief for five years, had been working for Buckland since April 1, but the towns opted to create an official contract between them. This move could lay the groundwork for a full shared-policing contract, similar to the partnerships between Leverett and Wendell or Bernardston and Leyden.

“It’s an opportunity to move this forward as two towns,” said Buckland Selectboard Chair Barry Del Castilho at last week’s Selectboard meeting. “The next task is to propose to the two boards a public participation schedule and process, probably to begin in September.”

The new agreement, Bardwell said, will split his pay and benefits down the middle between the two towns, as well as provide more flexibility for him to work for either town during working hours. Buckland will pay Shelburne $5,500 per month, according to a copy of the agreement on Buckland’s town website.

The old agreement, Bardwell added, had him in an “administrative role working in my off hours for Buckland. This allows me to basically work normal hours.”

The move to approve this interim agreement, which expires on June 30, 2023, comes as the towns were awarded a $200,000 state grant in March to explore a shared police department. Some of that money is going toward a contract with the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, which will help guide the town through a possible regionalization plan. The Collins Center was also involved in the Bernardston-Leyden and Leverett-Wendell agreements.

With several shared departments, such as the Shelburne Falls Fire District, Del Castilho said “it just made more sense” for the towns to explore sharing a police department. Bardwell echoed the same thought, adding the state’s police reform bill has brought difficult financial hardships to small-town police departments.

“Rather than trying to hire three or four full-timers on each side of the bridge and try to suck up that financial impact,” Bardwell said Buckland and Shelburne could try to work out a shared-policing agreement that could ease financial burdens on both communities.

Del Castilho said regionalizing Buckland and Shelburne’s services has been a longstanding discussion, but residents seem more open to it now than in the past. Any permanent shared-policing agreement, fellow Selectboard member Clint Phillips noted, would need to be approved by residents at both Town Meetings.

“This has been a discussion for a long time,” Del Castilho said. “We haven’t heard any discouraging words on this yet — it’s pretty much, if not enthusiasm, understanding from residents.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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