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Pittsfield Fire Controls Basement Fire On Appleton Ave.

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters quickly snuffed out a fire in the basement of an Appleton Avenue home, preventing the family from being displaced.
 
Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Garner released a report saying the department responded to 75 Appleton shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday night for report of smoke in the basement. A furnace without water overheated, which lead to the pipes igniting insulation. 
 
"Upon arrival we found a moderate amount of smoke in the basement and the 1st floor. We found a super heated furnace with insulation located above and adjacent on fire," Garner wrote. "Engine 3 crew pulled a preconnected booster line and extinguished the fire."
 
The crew on Engine 1 helped remove smoldering debris, he wrote, Engine 6 supplied a water supply, and Tower 1 provided ventilation and checked for expansion. 
 
"The fire was confined and controlled relatively quickly on a frigid night. The occupants were not displaced and were to make emergency service to the heating unit," Garner wrote.
 
There were no injuries reported. There is smoke and water damage in the basement. 
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Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 11 - Jan. 13.

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, Jan. 11.
 
Scott Kennedy, 31, of North Adams was found not guilty by a jury on single counts of assault and battery on a pregnant person, assault and battery on a family or household member, and assault and battery in connection with incidents that occurred in North Adams between April 25, 2014 and March 22, 2015.
 
He was also found not guilty on a single count of assault by means of a dangerous weapon in connection with an incident in Clarksburg on September 7, 2015. The alleged victim in both instances was a 38-year-old woman.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
 
Jeffrey Renzi, 41, of Pittsfield was found guilty by a jury on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - and drug violation in a park zone. 
 
He was ordered to serve three and a half to five years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the possession of heroin charge and given two and a half to four years on the park zone charge. In total he will serve six to ten years in prison.
 
Renzi was found not guilty to a single count of resisting arrest. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on December 31, 2014.
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Tractor-Trailer Misses Hairpin Turn

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A tractor-trailer truck nearly took a dangerous shortcut to the city on Wednesday afternoon after crashing over the guardrail at the Hairpin Turn.

The tractor-trailer truck, hauling an Expedited Transport trailer, failed to navigate the notoriously difficult turn as it was descending the steep Mohawk Trail at about 2 p.m.

It slid into and over the guardrail near the old overlook, its front tires dangling over the edge.

The driver was able to exit the cab and was uninjured, according to police.

Clarksburg Fire Department and North Adams Ambulance responded to the scene, and North Adams Police directed traffic around the scene. The very point of the Hairpin Turn, where the Golden Eagle Restaurant is located, is in Clarksburg.

Traffic was closed to one lane until Dean's Towing showed up to pull the tractor-trailer safely back onto the road.

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Pittsfield Police: Eight Robberies In Six Weeks

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is averaging more than one armed robbery per week for the last month and a half.
 
Police say there have been eight armed robberies since November 23, 2015, seven of which are still unsolved.
 
The stores robbed include Angelina's on West Housatonic Street,  an Empire Pizza delivery driver on Parker Street, the Gulf Station on Wahconah Street, Zuke's Variety on West Street, the Getty on Elm Street, Greylock Federal Credit Union on Upper North Street, the Salvation Army on Dalton Avenue, and Dawes Avenue Variety.
 
"With the exception of one case (robbery of Zuke's store on 12/10/15, in which 30-year-old Ivy Rogers of Pittsfield was arrested and charged, these are all active investigations," Police Chief Michael Wynn wrote in a release issued on Friday. 
 
The chief says the staffing levels and call volume "do not allow for increased patrols or presence at this time" but that beat officers "are making it a point in between calls to be visible and conduct patrols in and around businesses."
 
Wynn said units within the patrol division would typically execute specialized patrols and have been given additional tasks related to solving the open robbery cases. Other units — such as detectives and investigators — have picked up additional duties aimed to prevent more robberies as well as investigating the cases.
 
While there are some commonalities in the robberies, it appears that most are separate investigations, Wynn wrote.
 
"Beyond race or sex, none of the descriptions of any of the suspects in the seven open cases closely matches any other case. In other words, they appear to have been committed by seven separate sets of suspects," Wynn wrote.  
 
"That being said, eyewitness information in these cases has not been particularly strong.  It does now appear that one of the seven cases in Pittsfield does appear to be linked to a similar robbery that occurred on Jan. 7, 2016 in South Hadley."
 
Some of the details included that most were places of business — with only one being a delivery driver; three involved knives and four involved handguns; there are six male suspects and one female suspect (one woman already arrested in the Zuke's Variety case); three were white males, two were black males, two (one male, one female) were of unknown race; three of them occurred during the 5 p.m. hour, two during the 7 p.m. hour, one during the 11 p.m. hour — a total six happening during the evening shift — and one at 2 in the afternoon; in four cases the victims were alone, in three there were multiple people present; no victims were injured; and the locations do not appear to be in any geographical pattern.
 
In wake of the rash of robberies, the Police Department issued the following tips to businesses and individuals:
  • Increase vigilance when nearing closing hours (when customer traffic is low).
  • Increase awareness of persons/vehicles loitering in the area, and call the police if suspicious.
  • Increase staff at closing and evening hours so that there is not one employee alone during these times.
  • Install surveillance and security systems.
  • Do not do anything to place yourself in harm.  Comply with all demands.
  • Immediately close your business, and lock your doors.  Call 911 before calling anyone else.
  • Be the best witness you can be.  After calling 911, write down details of the suspect. If there is more than one victim, do not share details amongst yourselves first.
Anyone with information regarding these cases is encouraged to call the Detective Bureau at 448-9705.
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Pittsfield Police Restructures Command Staff

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Police Department is restructuring its command staff following the retirement of Capt. Patrick Barry.
 
Barry is a 27-year veteran of the force and announced his retirement from the department effective Jan. 3. He was the commander of the detective bureau for 15 years. He was briefly appointed acting chief at one point. Despite his retirement, he will remain in the profession as the chief of police in another community.
 
With his position open, the department is making a number of changes to top positions, which be be in place in the next few days.
 
"Captain Barry's departure led to an opportunity for internal discussion and some personnel assignment changes," Police Chief Michael Wynn wrote. 
 
Capt. David Granger will take over command of the administrative services division as of Sunday, Jan. 10. He will assume responsibility for records, procurement, and human resources. He will also be the department's primary public information officer. 
 
Granger has been with the department for 31 years with the last 10 being the commander of the uniformed patrol division. Prior to that, he worked as a supervisor in both the detective bureau and the the drug unit as well as the patrol supervisor. 
 
Capt. John Mullin, the current commander of the administrative services division, will switch with Granger to become the division commander of the uniformed patrol division. He will be in charge of all patrol functions, traffic, K9, and special events. He also will be the department's liaison to the Traffic Commission, the Pittsfield Community Connect program, and the Elizabeth Freeman Center. He assumes the new job on Sunday, Jan. 10.
 
Mullin has been with the department for 29 years with the last eight being the commander of the administrative services division. Prior to that, he was shift commander and patrol supervisor in the uniformed patrol division. 
 
Lt. Michael Grady will be interim commander of the detective bureau — filling the vacancy left by Barry's retirement. Grady has been with the department for 21 years and has most recently been the detective lieutenant — second in command — on the evening shift. He takes over the commander position on Sunday, Jan. 10. He assumes command of the detective bureau, drug unit, and crime scene services pending completion of a formal civil service promotional process. 
 
"The department's senior commanders have spent between five and 15 years in their current assignments. While each division commander assignment places various requirements and demands on the commander, they all present significant challenges, time commitments, and personal investment. Captain Barry's departure has presented us with an opportunity to make some changes, mix things up, and interject some fresh perspective into our organization and operations," Wynn wrote. 
 
"We wish Chief Barry well in his new endeavors, and I'm looking forward to the energy that these new assignments will bring to the Department."
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