Chief K. Scott Kelley takes the oath from Town Clerk Haley Meczywor. Kelley is the town's third police chief in a year.
ADAMS, Mass. — New Police Chief K. Scott Kelley says he "already feels at home" and is looking forward to spending time getting to know his officers.
"The thing that I'm looking forward to the most is actually spending time with my officers," he said on Tuesday. "I can't say it enough, and I mean every word of it. I have learned throughout my years that the only way to succeed in leadership is to make sure that everyone under you has input. These officers know what is needed, what is wanted, where we need to go, what our goal should be."
Kelley was sworn in on Tuesday morning in front of Town Hall, the town's third police chief in less than year. He particularly thanked his immediate predecessor Troy Bacon, along with Town Administrator Jay Green and Selectmen Chairwoman Christine Hoyt, for ensuring a seamless transition in leadership.
Bacon had been leading the force since July in an interim capacity following the retirement of Chief Richard Tarsa, a 36-year member of the Adams force. He had initially indicated interest in taking on the post permanently but declined late last year for personal reasons and returned to Indiana.
Kelley took the oath from Town Clerk Haley Meczywor with several selectmen in attendance, town employees and police officers lined up on each side of the walkway. The weather was chilly and scattered snowflakes fell during the short ceremony, a bit of a change for the South Carolina native.
He got a better perspective back on Dec. 18, he said, when he and his family traveled to Adams for a meet and greet — just a day or two after nearly a foot of snow fell on the county.
"I think we got a good dose of what the weather can offer, because it was only a day or two after the big snowfall," he grinned. "And we got to see the town, we got to kind of look at the area and get a foothold on the area around Adams and just really fell in love with it."
The new chief has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, including a 12-year stint in Anderson, S.C., during which he rose to the rank of sergeant and filled roles ranging from school resource officer to the special weapons and tactics team. He took on administrative and policy development roles in the Police Department at Folly Beach, S.C., and also worked at two higher-education institutions — Clemson University and Spartanburg Community College. At Spartanburg, he was chief of police for the sprawling campus with its nearly 7,000 students, faculty and staff. He holds a bachelor of science focused in criminal justice/law enforcement administration from Columbia Southern University.
He arrived in Adams on Friday and began his three-year contract Tuesday. His wife and three children — ages 8,11 and 13 — will be joining him.
Green said this has been a year of despair between the pandemic and acknowledgement of social ills that continue to plague the nation, but there appears to be a light ahead and that the day offered a reason to be positive and embrace optimism.
"Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day that we celebrate service, I was reminded that that solution starts right here with those of us that wear a uniform or provide public service in any capacity," he said. "It starts with us in Adams, in the Berkshires, and we have a reason as citizens to contribute and lead in our own communities because that is the very foundation of our democracy."
The tip of the sword is the town's police force, Green continued. "Law enforcement has been brought to the forefront in our national and community dialogue and not always in a positive context. Although the demands and nature of policing has evolved over the years, I think it vital to remember the primary mission of a police department should always be to protect and to serve regardless of creed or race."
He lauded the departed Bacon for bringing the Adams force closer to fulfilling its 125-year mission to protect and serve its community, and to come closer to being the best-performing department in the county. Kelley, he said, had the leadership skills and empathy vital to being a chief of police and furthering the department's professionalism.
Kelley said he plans to listen to his officers and community members because it will take both groups working together for the town's betterment.
"I have felt extremely welcome. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else at this point, I already feel at home," Kelley said. "I look forward to the future for this department, I look forward to the future for this town and what we can do together — the Police Department and community — where we can go, where we can improve and all of this is with the help of the community and those officers right there."
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