Michael Wynn has served the role in a provisional manner for the last decade.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On Dec. 1, 2007, an officer went into the chief's office to congratulate Michael Wynn on being promoted to "captain in charge."
That was the first day Wynn was on the job as the department's top administrator. The officer joked and said, "you only have to do this job for 17 more years."
But what Wynn didn't realize then was that he'd serve nearly two-thirds of that time waiting to be sworn in and pinned with four-stars.
On Dec. 1, 2017 — exactly 10 years later — Wynn finally raised his hand and repeated after the mayor to officially become the organization's chief. His wife, Christina, pinned four stars onto his uniform.
"There have been a lot of changes. But through it all there has been one constant: the Pittsfield Police Department's commitment to provide the highest quality police service that we can to the community we serve with the resources that are available to us," Wynn said of the last decade during which he oversaw the department in an "acting" capacity.
"We've done some great work. We have made some big cases. We've been an early adopter of emerging technologies. We have experimented in new programs. We've strengthened community partnerships."
The chief said he's served at the whim of three mayors, has seen the turnover of all but two members of the command staff, and has seen countless new hires. He saw Pittsfield's officers put in thousands of volunteer hours, be recognized for community engagement, and launched many new programs and initiatives.
But he also said he's seen gang activities, increases in violence, and the onset and devastation of the opioid crisis, forcing the department to continuously change its tactics.
"It had not always been an easy job. However, I have been blessed with an outstanding team of professionals that assisted me every step of the way," Wynn said.
The past two mayors had been reluctant to appoint him permanently to the job because they didn't want to go through Civil Service, leaving Wynn with the title captain and one decision away from being reassigned from his acting chief position.
This year, Mayor Linda Tyer held an assessment center process through Civil Service. Of three candidates, Wynn's name was certified on top of the list. She made the appointment in November
and the City Council affirmed it on Tuesday.
"My professional experience with Chief Wynn began when I was first elected to the City Council in 2004. From that day until this day, I've admired his work ethic, his thoughtfulness about the meaning of law enforcement in the community, his willingness to make hard decisions and to stand firm when challenged," Tyer said.
Tyer praised the work he did to help bring ShotSpotter to the city and his community engagement and communication. She said she appreciates his lengthy background working with numerous law enforcement agencies, his continual effort to educate himself to better do his job, and his resume of teaching other members of law enforcement throughout the state. And she appreciates the way he manages his personnel.
"Chief Wynn cares about every single one of the officers that are under his command. He shows up for them to celebrate their successes and support them through difficult circumstances. He expects greatness and leads by example. At the same time, he has the courage to confront officers when they have not lived up to professional standards or community expectations," Tyer said.
Friday's ceremony at the Berkshire Museum was a "momentous occasion," Tyer said. And the crowd filling the Crane Room, with state and local elected officials, law enforcement from numerous agencies, city department heads, and representatives from community organizations "speaks volume to the respect Chief Wynn has earned," Tyer said.
"He has earned this appointment through a recognized Civil Service process. And he has earned this commitment through commitment and loyalty to his progression. The city of Pittsfield is beyond fortunate to have a chief of police of this caliber leading the Police Department," Tyer said.
Wynn still has years to go on the job and said those community partners will help the Police Department become even better. He said he challenges his officers to learn every day and evolve as an agency. There are new opportunities to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies and community groups that hadn't even been thought of yet, he said.
"Today is a new day and the beginning of a new opportunity. It is a chance to commit to a process of continual improvement, to find new ways to be an even better police organization," Wynn said.