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Police Chief Thomas Dawley II was selected by the mayor to run the Pittsfield Police Department.
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Dawley and Mayor Peter Marchetti shake hands at the announcement on Wednesday.

Thomas Dawley Appointed Pittsfield's New Police Chief

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Police Chief Thomas Dawley with Sheriff Thomas Bowler, left, Mayor Peter Marchetti and District Attorney Timothy Shugrue. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police Chief Thomas Dawley II, a 22-year veteran of the Pittsfield Police Department, wants to make Pittsfield the safest city in the county and the state.
 
Mayor Peter Marchetti announced Dawley's permanent appointment on Wednesday morning, commending their working relationship over the last six months.
 
"Tom has shown tremendous leadership and resolve throughout his career within the department and in his prior roles. He is respected by his team and is always willing to lend a helping hand," he said.
 
"Policing isn't always easy and there are high expectations. I know Tom will rise to the challenge and serve this community with steadfast dedication, empathy, and diligence. I am honored that he has accepted this position and know he will continue to be a reliable leader for the department and this community."
 
Dawley stepped into role of interim chief on the retirement of Michael Wynn last July. 
 
He joined the force in 2002 as a patrol officer, then became a detective and rose through the ranks to captain before he was appointed interim chief last year. 
 
Twenty-two years ago, he would have never predicted serving in this role, he said, "But here I am. I'm here for you, I'm here for the city and residents, and I'm certainly here for my officers."
 
"I want to see Pittsfield succeed and I want to see my department succeed. ...
 
"We are not going to fail. We are going to do what we have to do to make this city the safest city, not only in Berkshire County but in Massachusetts."
 
Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler, a former Pittsfield officer, joking told Dawley, "My little grasshopper, you have learned well." He pointed to the great partnership that the chief has fostered and the importance of local and statewide collaboration.
 
"Collaboration is very, very important. That's why I ran my campaign on it, being able to utilize each other as a resource," he said. "And that's exactly what's taking place."
 
Bowler added that he has seen Dawley's leadership skills at work and passing those qualities down to other members of the department.
 
Marchetti also emphasized the importance of collaboration.
 
"Since I have taken office, I have worked to build the relationship between the city, DA's office, and Sheriff's Department," he said. "It is vital that our agencies work together to find ways in which we can keep this community safe. We must work together to make this community the best it can be and work towards creating one Pittsfield."
 
District Attorney Timothy Shugrue said Pittsfield officers "along with the strong law enforcement partnerships that the chief has already fostered" have taken nine "high-level drug dealers" off the streets in the last six weeks. 
This included the confiscation of 1.5 kilos of cocaine, $15,000 in cash, thousands of dollars in drugs, and three firearms.
 
In the past year and a half, Pittsfield Police, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, have removed illegal guns and ammunition from the streets of Pittsfield, reducing gun violence to almost nothing from more than 20 shootings in 2022 to just a one last year that was not gang or drug-related, Shugrue said.
 
"Chief Dawley has led a department that values and fosters a strong relationship with the Berkshire County District Attorney's office. That is imperative," he said.
 
"This partnership has led to successful convictions and apprehensions of individuals who have brought violence to Berkshire County. Through his dedicated leadership, the officers are willing to put in countless hours to work to ensure those who bring violence to our cities are held accountable. Chief Dawley's officers feel supported by him and in turn, they work day in and day out to keep this city safe and our county safe."
 
Dawley said this last year has been "very, very difficult," but the department got through it and he has many goals for the future. This includes staffing the department to full capacity, community engagement, and addressing mental health issues.
 
"I think people have heard mental health and substance use is an issue that's near and dear to me and we're creating a mental health and substance use task force but the chief and the team are already looking for how do we create a joint diversion team to be able to do some of the work that we're looking for," Marchetti said.
 
"So chief, if you keep up that good work, I know we're going to be a great team for the next eight years."
 
Dawley said a joint co-responder diversion team was created a few months ago that has officers in the field with co-responders for mental health calls.
 
"It's a softer approach to mental health," he said.
 
When asked his perspective on the past five years of crime, the new chief feels the numbers don't support claims that Pittsfield is unsafe.
 
"I think that there are false positives," he said, acknowledging that some feel Pittsfield is an awful place and it is dangerous to walk downtown but the statistics don't show that.
 
"Yes, we have our shootings, drug seizures, domestics, bad things that we deal with every day but, looking at the data, Pittsfield is very safe."
 
Marchetti said one of Dawley's hesitations, aside from speaking publicly, was presenting the Police Department budget to the City Council. Last week, the council preliminarily OK'd a nearly $15 million police budget that was commended for being solid and not excessive.
 
The chief attributed this to having a fantastic financial team. This side of the work was a learning curve but he feels comfortable with the budget that was presented.
 
"I had zero budget background. I'm going to be completely honest with you," he said. "Within the last year, I've learned a tremendous amount of budgeting and financial burdens with the department."
 
He was also asked how the department will ensure a good stream of communication with the media so that residents can get fast and accurate information.
 
"As much as I can, I want to be more active with the community engagement and social media. We have officers — I have a PIO (public information officer) group that responds hopefully in a timely manner. We're busy, I hope you understand that," Dawley said.
 
"But I want to push out, changing the narrative from community policing to community engagement. I want to be in more functions, I want my officers to try to make more functions with the community, I like to be invited by a department to community engagements, so I really want to be upfront and honest and transparent with the community that we're here for you and whatever you guys need, just call us. We're there."
 
When asked if there would be a new police station during this administration, Marchetti said "the notion of a $50 million new police headquarters is probably a long way off the road" but there may be a building available to renovate into a station after schools are consolidated.

Tags: appointments,   Pittsfield Police,   police chief,   

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Safety Solutions Proposed for Berkshire Mall Intersection

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A speed bump and traffic mirror have been proposed at the reportedly problematic intersection of Old State Road and the Berkshire Mall entrance.
 
Last week, abutters approached the Select Board with concerns about drivers ignoring stop signs and speeding through the area. Target owns its building and is the lone business left on the property.   
 
"When you turn into Old State Road, our driveways are right there," Judy Bennett said. "Nobody stops, nobody slows down to come around that corner. They go faster and that's where someone is going to get hurt."
 
Carl Bennett added, "We are taking our lives into our own hands when we pull out during the day."
 
The Old State Road bridge connects the mall and Old State Road to Route 8. Abutter Pauline Hunt would like to see it closed entirely, making the Connector Road the access point from Route 8.
 
"That entrance isn't necessary," she said.
 
"It's chaos. There's an entrance over by the bike path that would serve everybody, there would be no problem, and there are lights at the end of it, it's a dream to get into there. I don't see the reason that chaos is there."
 
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