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The new Police Advisory Committee met Thursday. Its purpose is to advocate for the department, research related issues and pursue grant funding and new ways for policing.

Pittsfield Police Advisory Committee Reactivates

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Committee members spent their first meeting introducing themselves to each other and members of the Police Department.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The long-dormant Police Advisory Committee was rejuvenated on Thursday when the newly appointed members held their first meeting.

The committee is intended to be a subcommittee of the City Council to advocate for the Police Department. It's envisioned to explore new technologies, pursue grant funding, help community policing efforts and weigh-in on projects such as the building of a new police station. They will also be asked to research topics by the mayor or City Council.

"This was something I wanted to get started shortly after I got into office," Mayor Daniel Bianchi said Thursday afternoon. "We have to have our city be identified as a safe community."

The members are: Sheriff Thomas Bowler, Phyllis Smith, Ken Wilson, Radcliffe Harewood, Scott Clements, Katie Roucher and Larry Tallman.

Their first meeting at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Thursday served as mostly an introduction to the Police Department. The group met with Chief Michael Wynn, Sgt. Mark Trapani and Lt. Kate O'Brien, who explained the major issues the department face.

Among those issues are drug use, increasing juvenile violence and property crimes. They also explained the structure of the department and invited the group to take ride-alongs with patrol officers, watch the dispatchers and will tour the station — which they plan to do at their next meeting — to get to know the ins and outs of law enforcement.

The initial meetings will get the members more acquainted with the department and are expected to include presentations from different divisions of the department, who will explain their operations, tools and what capabilities they have.

The meetings, which will be the first Monday of every month, will also include an administrative briefing.

Some of the issues already identified by the committee include a new police station, bullying in schools and efficiencies in operations.

Wynn said the group will also serve as an additional method of communication.

"There are a lot of things we hear about after the fact," Wynn told the committee.

Thursday's meeting officially organized the group while they introduced themselves, settled on meeting schedules, how to go about filing minutes and securing meeting locations. The committee elected Harewood as chairman and Roucher as secretary.

"I think it'll be a good group," Bianchi said.

The members were chosen because of their interest and or background of serving in public safety groups. It is one of many committees for which Bianchi has been trying to recruit members. The committee has been "on the books" but it has been "years and not months," the mayor said.

Wynn said he has been requesting the activation of that committee for two years.

Tags: advisory committee,   police,   

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Taconic High Community Mourns Sudden Loss of Teacher, Coach

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The school community is mourning the sudden loss of Taconic High School teacher Kevin Harrington, 38.
Harrington, a special education teacher and coach, collapsed Wednesday in a classroom at the school after a medical incident.
"Our students lost a teacher with an infectious optimism, a ready smile, and a constant willingness to help his colleagues and students alike," Superintendent Jason McCandless said in a statement. "He was a true champion for all students, including students who most needed a champion. To know Mr. Harrington was to love and respect him. He taught in the school he graduated from and loved, and he will be deeply missed by his family, his many, many friends, his colleagues, and by the entire Pittsfield community."
Harrington was a Taconic alum and according to a press release from the high school's athletic department, "excelled in the classroom, and on the playing fields." He was captain of the football and wrestling team and became the first wrestler in school history to reach the 100 Career Wins Plateau. He graduated in 2000 and, after continuing his education, came back to Taconic in the mid-2000s.
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