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Sunderland police chief talks restart

  • The Sunderland town offices on School Street. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • The Sunderland town offices on School Street. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO



For the Bulletin
Thursday, July 14, 2016

SUNDERLAND — After negotiations with the first police chief candidate fell through, the Select Board has decided to offer the job to a second applicant.

The town was in talks with current Shutesbury Chief Thomas E. Harding after offering him the job about a month ago. But Harding decided against the town’s offer, according to Select Board member Scott Bergeron.

During a recent meeting, the board voted to offer the position to a second candidate, former Barre police chief Erik Demotropoulos. Monson police Sgt. Jane Jalbert was also considered for the position.

Demotropoulos has said that he’s interested in negotiating for the position, according to Town Administrator Sherry Patch. Demotropoulos was one of three candidates recommended to the Select Board by a search committee created after the retirement of former chief Jeffrey Gilbert earlier this year.

During the time the department has been without a chief, Sgt. Brendan Lyons has been in charge.

Bergeron, who represented the town during negotiations with Harding, said the two sides couldn’t agree on the financial details.

“The negotiations broke down when we came to total compensation package,” Bergeron said. “Everyone understands that it’s just business. It’s just the way it is.

Select Board Chairman Thomas Fydenkevez said even though the board initially gravitated toward Harding, Demotropoulos is also a good fit.

“Both remaining (candidates) that were presented to us come highly recommended to us from the search committee,” Fydenkevez said.

The board chose Harding at least partially because of his knowledge of the area, not because he was more qualified than the other candidates.

In the meantime, Lyons said officers have had to work extra shifts to fill staffing voids in the absence of a chief and the recent departure from the department of another full-time police officer. Recently, the full-time position was filled by a former part-time officer.

“The part-timers and full-timers have stepped up since chief Gilbert left,” he said. “We’re doing very well, (despite) a lot of extra shifts.”