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July 12, 2024

City hears ideas for chief

GREENFIELD — Only a handful of residents turned out for the City of Greenfield’s “Listening Session” last Wednesday to share their input on a new police chief, but City Manager Jaime Fontes was still able to walk away with a few suggestions that will help him prepare a job description for the position.

“Sometimes it’s not necessarily the size of the crowd, but it’s the quality of the input,” Fontes said.

City staff hosted the Aug. 30 session to hear from community members about the types of characteristics and qualifications that they feel are essential for Greenfield Police Department’s Chief of Police, currently led by Interim Police Chief Tony Sollecito. The input will be used to target qualified applicants.

“The whole idea of having a listening session is for the public to be directly involved in the input as to what they would like to see in a new police chief,” Fontes said. “… There’s a job description template, but we want to make it specific and special to the City of Greenfield. Once we come up with that description, that will be the basis for solicitation for candidates that are well-qualified and well-suited to serve the city.”

Just five speakers voiced their ideas inside the Council Chambers that evening.

Suggestions ranged from a police chief who is cooperative and able to work well with the Community Police Academy and the city’s new fire department — coming July 1, 2018 — to one who has a background in the regulation of the cannabis industry and has an open-door policy.

Stephanie Garcia, who has lived in Greenfield for 10 years, would like the new chief to come prepared with a game plan to address laws in regard to the emerging cannabis industry.

“For the incoming chief, it’s important … that they have some sort of game plan ready,” Garcia said. “This is a lot of people and employees and product, and this is going to be a big deal. (The chief needs to be) ready to address that and take that on.”

She also would like a chief who is committed, suggesting the city have them sign a multi-year contract.

“Our department deserves stability, and so do we,” she said.

Fontes responded, saying city employment contracts are not usually for a specific term, but the city will “look at all means to extend their longevity here.”

Greenfield Police Sgt. Daniel Sotello also spoke during the session, adding that he would like a police chief who listens to all officers — regardless of rank — and allows them to be more involved with the community through positive interactions.

“I want to see that continue with the new chief, allowing us to explore more and be more creative, have more ideas and listen to us,” Sotello said. “The newest officer could have the best idea that we just haven’t thought about yet.”

Following the session, Fontes will use the suggestions to revise the Chief of Police job description that will then go to the city council for approval. Once approved, the job will be posted and the city will begin to accept applicants, who will be vetted down by a professional committee that specializes in law enforcement.

Afterward, each council member will select two representatives for a citizens’ panel that will interview the remaining candidates. Once narrowed down further, final interviews will be conducted, with Fontes making the ultimate selection.

“When it’s a very small number (of candidates), I will make the selection that as manager I was selected by the council to make, but that way there will be input from all sectors,” Fontes said.

If all goes well, a new chief could be in place this November.