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Mayor Tyer Nearing Police Chief Appointment

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer is poised to appoint a more permanent police chief, ending years of uncertainty about the position.
The city has had "acting" police and fire chiefs for years. Current Police Chief Michael Wynn was appointed to serve in an "acting" capacity in 2009 -- Wynn had been serving in the role as "captain in charge" since 2007 -- and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski was appointed "acting" in 2010. Czerwinski is the third chief to serve in the "acting" capacity since 2003.
Both of the current "acting" chiefs were appointed by former Mayor James Ruberto.The title kept through the administration of Mayor Daniel Bianchi, who had pushed to get the city away from the Civil Service altogether, which he felt was inefficient.
When Tyer took over in 2016, she first attempted to appoint Wynn based on the 2009 scores but that was rejected by the Civil Service Commission.
Now she is expected to make a permanent appointment within months after going through the Civil Service process. The city held an assessment center on Sept. 27 during which three in-house candidates participated. Tyer says once Civil Service certifies the list, she'll act quickly in making an appointment.
"We don't have the results back. Even though we are using assessment centers for our upper ranks, it is still a Civil Service process," Tyer said on Thursday. "I think we should probably have something by the end of this month."
The issue has plagued the city for years with numerous calls for a more permanent hiring. In 2014, the Charter Review Commission crafted language in transitioning to the new charter specifying that steps be taken "immediately" for the hiring. 
Bianchi disapproved of the Civil Service and put in motion a study committee to consider alternative options. That committee spent months looking into it and was ultimately torn, with union representatives opposing moving away from Civil Service and others wanting a new option. But nobody opposed the use of assessment centers to better judge candidates.
The assessment centers take a deeper examination of a candidate by putting him or her through a half dozen or so real-life exercises. That takes the place of a written test. This year, the City Council approved $26,000 to run assessment centers for the top three ranks in the Police and Fire Departments.
The city contracted with Pocasset-based Public Safety Consultants to run the assessments. Tyer said the outside consultant consists of public safety experts who score the exam independently. The company then submits the results to the Civil Service Commission.
The mayor said she will not know the actual scores. Civil Service will certify the results and provide a ranking of three candidates.
"All three candidates were from inside the department ... I want to see the rankings and whoever scores at the top will receive greater attention from me," Tyer said. 
Tyer said she is confident with the three candidates because she wants to make sure the chief understands the community. She is not planning on doing any further interviews and is just waiting until the list is released. She did not reveal the names of the candidates.
"There won't be a long delay," she said. "Within two weeks [of receiving the results] I'll know what my decision is."
Public Safety Consultants have a three-year contract, valued at $45,500, to run the top three positions in both the Fire and Police Departments. The next slate of tests will be later this month for captain and lieutenant in the Police Department -- both on Nov. 13.
Tyer said her focus is on getting the Police Department ranks solidified first and then move to the Fire Department because "law enforcement is such a key component."
Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said the deputy chief and captain examinations for the Fire Department are scheduled on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6.
Tyer cited the new patrol officers recently hired and emphasized the need for a stable command structure in the Police Department.

Tags: civil service exam,   Pittsfield Police,   

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Pittsfield City Council Accepts EMA Incentives

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

BIC Executive Director Ben Sosne speaks to the City Council.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council unanimously approved two incentives welcoming  Electro Magnetic Applications Inc. to the city.
After sending a special tax agreement and an Economic Development Fund allocation for EMA Inc. to subcommittee for consideration, the full City Council cast its vote Tuesday in favor of the incentives that will help the aerospace company take off in Pittsfield.
"We are investing our money into growing and we want part of that investment to be here," EMA President Tim McDonald said. "We think there is a real market need for this type of work and we would like to make the BIC and Pittsfield a major part of this new space economy." 
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