Royalston Selectboard sets retirement policy

  • Royalston's Selectboard recently enacted a policy requiring all police and fire department employees to retire at the age of 65. (L-R) Board member Chris Long, Chair Deb D'Anico and member Rick Martin. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 3/29/2023 5:04:21 PM
Modified: 3/29/2023 5:04:08 PM

ROYALSTON – The Selectboard has established a retirement policy for the town’s police officers and firefighters following several weeks’ deliberation.

The issue arose because there are two officers above the age of 65 serving in the police department.

The board weighed the benefits of four proposals, including allowing each department to adopt its own internal policy. Police Chief Curtis Deveneau said board member Chris Long recommended allowing both fire and police to continue after 65 under certain circumstances.

The third option sets different requirements for each of the departments, allowing firefighters over 65 to continue to perform only first responder medical duties. This also allowed police officers to continue working until age 70, if they pass a physical exam that assesses their ability to meet the job requirements and with the chief’s approval.

The fourth option states that all police and firefighters must retire at the age of 65. EMTs are still allowed to perform only first responder medical duties. Anyone over the age of 65 may be allowed to perform office or managerial duties at the discretion of the chief. Retired police officers may work in the Civilian Traffic Unit as defined in the department’s Traffic Control Policy.

Board reviews options

“I’m in favor of Option 3,” said board member Rick Martin. “I think it gives the department what they want right now, and it also gives the police department what they’ve expressed that they want. In the future, if the fire department wants to get into it and just upgrade policy and (consider) Option 2. But I think Option 3 covers what our intent was.”

Board Chair Deb D’Amico said that in conversations with town counsel, they strongly suggested the board adopt a policy calling for retirement at age 65.

“He said that is the standard in virtually all towns,” said D’Amico. “It’s simple, it’s clear. The whole ‘fitness for duty,’ who does that, what is it that they’re looking at? It just feels squishy to me.”

“In some ways I agree with you, because it would be much simpler,” Long interjected. “But we were moved when two members of the police department came and reported on the kinds of things they do and the kind of help they give to the town…to not take advantage of people like that would, you know, it’s nothing to say ‘no’ to.”

While being moved by the comments of the two over-65 officers, D’Amico said, “I don’t know that they are going to do enough of the day-to-day, during the week, during the day that needs their assistance.”

In response to a question, D’Amico said that Royalston’s attorney had confirmed that pushing retirement beyond the age of 65 would increase the town’s liability exposure. She added that if the town adopted 65 as the retirement age, it be implemented as of July 1.

“We appointed the existing officers who are over this age without regard to their age,” D’Amico said. “So, I would say we need to see this fiscal year out with those appointments and then have this begin.”

D’Amico said it is a known fact that the police department is shrinking, and even though the town has budgeted for seven days a week of patrols, the officers aren’t available and the department is unable to cover all shifts.

“Also, there are instances of emergencies where first responders are called and the police aren’t available, or it takes them a long time…I think oftentimes police officers are coming in from other towns to cover those, is my understanding,” D’Amico said. “So there’s a bigger question about how do we, as a town, fund a police department that meets our needs, that’s as nimble as they can be, and that we can afford.”

The board ultimately voted to institute a policy requiring all fire and police department employees to retire at the age of 65, with the exceptions for medical response and traffic duty.

“We need to have some sort of a notification sent out to both chief, but mainly the police chief,” Martin suggested, “Saying ‘Okay, this having been voted in, we need to hear from you about how this affects the future of the police and fire departments, and what changes do you see happening?’”

Greg Vine can be reached at

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