With police chief retiring, Wendell to enter into pact with Leverett for services

  • Wendell’s old Town Hall and Police Station. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2020 6:12:19 PM
Modified: 10/15/2020 6:12:12 PM

Some major changes are in store for the Wendell Police Department.

Chief Edward Chase is retiring after 43 years and Wendell will enter into an inter-municipal agreement with Leverett for that town to provide its policing services.

Leverett Police Chief Scott Minckler explained the plan is for Wendell to contract with his department to respond to calls for service. The towns are expected to dip their toes in the water this week by entering into a 90-day agreement to experiment with the idea.

“It seemed like it would be the best way to start,” Minckler said, adding that Wendell and Leverett will try to hammer out a longer-term agreement during that 90 days.

He said this idea has been in the works for roughly a year. The Wendell Police Succession Committee, aware of Chase’s impending retirement, met every other week to devise a plan of what to do when he stepped away.

“It’s exciting,” said Minckler, who has been Leverett’s chief for nearly four years. “I truly think that this is kind of where small-town policing is going.”

Minckler said his department has two full-time officers and six part-timers, though he is in the process of hiring a third full-timer. He said these numbers could increase depending on Wendell’s call volume. Minckler mentioned Wendell has a patrol officer that will likely join the Leverett department.

Leverett and Wendell share a town line in the middle of the woods, Minckler said. There is a roughly 1-mile stretch of road in Shutesbury separating Leverett and Wendell.

Wendell Selectboard Chair Dan Keller said Chase served the town well for more than four decades.

“We have a very highly respected and much-loved police chief, but he’s reached the age of retirement and because we were looking for a new direction, a new chief, we talked to the towns around us,” Keller said. “He’s been an amazing chief and I think everyone in town would agree. He’s totally loved.”

Keller said Chase is an expert in de-escalation, or defusing tense situations.

Several attempts to contact Chase were unsuccessful.

Leverett Selectboard Chair Julie Shively said the longer-term agreement, once its finalized, will be reviewed after six months to a year.

“I’m really excited about this,” she said. “It’s something I’ve been interested in for a while. It can take all kinds of forms.”

Shively said Leverett intends to stay within Wendell’s $44,000 police budget.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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