LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The board of Selectmen just about finalized the Police Chief Search Committee at Monday night's meeting.
It was announced in January that Chief Timothy Sorrell will be retiring this summer after serving five years as the town's top law enforcement officer.
Sorrell started full-time in Lanesborough in 1987 as a patrolman. He was a sergeant for 12 years and a finalist for the chief's position when the town decided to hire Mark Bashara. He then served as an investigator for another dozen years before getting the spot upon Bashara's retirement in 2015.
The five-member committee will consist of residents William Keating and Tom Voisin, Police Sgt. Brad Lepicier, Selectman Gordon Hubbard, and a police chief currently serving another municipality. Town Manager Kelli Robbins said she has reached out to a few chiefs.
The board hopes to have the new chief in place early enough so that person can overlap with Sorrell should someone from outside the department be hired.
Sorrell was at Monday's meeting because a recent incident at Skyline Country Club concerned police enough for the chief and the responding officer to address the board. Officer Brennan Polidoro was attempting to make a traffic stop on Route 7 on Feb. 8 just past 11 p.m. when things went awry.
"I was parked down at the Center Shops there at the bank just observing traffic. A passerby pulled in and stated that the vehicle that was in front of him was operating erratically. I tried to catch up and stop the vehicle," Polidoro said.
He told the board the vehicle was entering the country club and ignored his efforts to stop him and continued up into the parking lot. From there, Polidoro said, the seemingly routine traffic stop, turned into something else.
"The individual that was driving the vehicle parked right in the middle of the parking lot, exited like I was not present, at that time there were about five or six other patrons that were [from] the bar outside. I tried to get the operator to come back ... he ignored me," the officer said. "The other gentlemen, the people that were outside, became hostile toward me. Then the other people inside Skyline Country Club saw the blue lights and about 15-20 exited the establishment and started bombarding me, saying anti-police remarks and threatening the police in nature. For the first time in my life I was honestly concerned for my safety being the only officer on duty at the time."
Polidoro requested backup and was soon joined by four Pittsfield units and two state police cruisers.
"Once another unit showed up it kind of calmed down but, for myself, the first time in my career i was worried ... looking over my shoulder someone was gonna try to take me out. That's a very scary feeling," he said.
The longtime owner of Skyline, Jim Mitus, was taken by surprise when he heard of the incident.
"It was a 70th birthday party. The DJ stopped at 10 o'clock. The party was done. There was maybe 20-25 people left just cleaning up. We weren't serving alcohol [then], the DJ wasn't playing. These people had suits and gowns on," he explained.
Sorrell's concern was keeping control of future situations like this so they don't escalate further. He made that clear to the board and Mitus.
"I just want to make sure, and I know Jim understands, but I think I want it on the record that he's responsible for patrons there. He's got to do the best he can to get them inside," Sorrell said. "If he could've corralled those people to get them inside we wouldn't have had 25 people out there screaming anti-police slogans and whatever other threats they were shouting at the officer."
Board Chairman John Goerlach brought up an option used by a similar establishment that Skyline might want to adopt.
"If you think you're gonna need somebody to help you with that, whether you hire a bouncer or something to try to keep crowd control, I know that the Tavern on the A, they always have a bouncer there at the door, trying to keep stuff in check," he told Mitus.
Ultimately, there was no discipline handed down by the board.
The board will be moving up the regular meeting from the scheduled date of March 9 to March 3, at 5 because of an attendance conflict.
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Lanesborough Fills Out Search Committee For New Chief
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectmen on Tuesday finalized the search committee for the soon to be vacant police chief position by appointing Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn.
He will be the fifth and final member of the committee that also includes Selectman Gordon Hubbard, Sgt. Brad Lepicier, Tom Voisin, and William Keating.
Chief Timothy Sorrell announced his retirement in January after 33 years on the force and five as chief. The town hopes to fill the position by June. Town Manager Kelli Robbins told the board that upwards of two dozen candidates have already applied.
Robbins said she was very pleased with the response thus far but was slightly concerned that one of the requirements might hamper the committee in its search.