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(left) Officer Joseph Coote, (middle)James R. Duryea, Jr., and (right) Police Chief Deanna Strout

The Perception of a Dalton Patrolman

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — Officer Joseph Coote often finds himself working the night shift but on this cold rainy morning, he found himself working a double, tasked with the responsibility of escorting a journalist on a drive along for an hour.
That curious journalist is me, Sabrina Damms, and I would be the first to admit that I know nothing about the job of a police officer. 
I have seen classic television shows like "The Rookie," "Chicago P.D," and, of course, "Cops," and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of movies and television shows about police officers. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be able to finish the opening lyrics to the Inner Circle song "Bad Boys" as soon as they heard the first few seconds of it.
Clearly, these shows are not accurate depictions of the job and, on occasion, while watching these shows or films, I could not help but wonder what really goes on behind the walls of the station and the wheel of the cruiser. 
My curiosity got the best of me and drove me to reach out to Police Chief Deanna Strout to see if she would give me a glimpse into the job of an officer. 
Strout set me up for a drive along with one of her officers, Patrolman Joseph Coote. Strout said she picked him for the ride-along because of how good he is at the job.
"Every day is different, you never know what is going to happen," Coote said. "It's not a typical 9 to 5 job where you have to sit at a desk all day."
Coote hails from the Boston area and moved to the Berkshires after attending Westfield University where got a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. 
April 12 marked his one-year anniversary with the Dalton Police Department. 
Coote comes from a long line of law enforcement in his family. Between himself, his uncle, and his cousins their family has officers, state troopers, and detectives.
Ever since he was a young kid he has been intrigued with the job. In fact, his mother has photos of him arresting his sister who is dressed up in a Halloween costume. 
"So I had always wanted to be a police officer since a young boy and here I am living my dream," he said. 
While on the job officers deal with a lot of individuals who struggle with mental health. The Dalton department utilizes Pittsfield's 951 and 952 units but when they are not available, it is up to the Dalton officers to navigate the call themselves. 
"As far as that goes, just talk to the person. Ask them what is going on and why they are feeling a certain way. Be human," Coote said. 
"Don't be a robot. Talk to them openly to try to de-escalate the situation." 
Throughout the drive-along, Coote demonstrated the procedures that officers follow including booking and watching over inmates, conducting a vehicle maintenance check, and checking the cruiser's radar. 
When someone is arrested they are fingerprinted and photographed. An impression of the fingers, palm, and blade of the hand is made twice, this can be a struggle if someone is resisting, Coote said.
The inmate is then taken over to be photographed. For the safety of the officer, the inmate is secured to the countertops while the picture is being taken. 
When officers have a prisoner in a cell they check on them every 30 minutes, 15 if they are suicidal. They record each time they check on the prisoner using a device called a beeper.
Before every shift, officers are required to do a video maintenance check. They check the status of the defibrillator, make sure the med bags are stocked, and ensure all materials are in the trunk including the fire extinguisher, forms, heavy-duty gear, etc.
While on the ride-along, Coote and I arrived at the scene of a sick woman being transported to the hospital. 
I watched from Coote's cruiser as the emergency medical technicians and officers collaborated to get the women into the ambulance. 
I saw the concerned family member standing in the doorway as she was whisked off to the hospital. I don’t doubt that this brief interaction comforted the residents during a bad day.
This is a clear motive of Coots who said he enjoys the job because he gets to help and interact with people.
"I enjoy it here. I enjoy helping others. Helping one person a day is usually my goal. If you change one person's life daily, it's a good goal to have," Coote said. 

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Dalton CRA Hall of Fame Welcomes Class of 2023

DALTON, Mass. -- Included in the Dalton CRA Hall of Fame's Class of 2023 was a two-time inductee who was one of two members of the same family recognized.
Gary Campbell Sr., who was inducted into the hall in 2019's inaugural class for his accomplishments as a coach, entered the hall on Sunday for his exploits as a student-athlete.
And this time around, he was joined by his son, current Wahconah Regional High School football coach Gary Campbell Jr.
The elder Campbell, in additon to being a great coach at Wahconah, was an all-Western Massachusetts player on the gridiron in 1966, '67 and '68 who went on to rush for more than 1,000 yards as a senior at American International College.
On Sunday at the Stationery Factor, Campbell Sr. joined six other athletes inducted into the Hall of Fame as individuals.
He also joined Campbell Jr., one of three coaches enshrined.
The younger Campbell is in his second stint at Wahconah and has more than 200 career wins and eight Western Mass titles on his resume.
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