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As Pittsfield police chief gets ready to retire, city officials consider salary bump for next chief

A police car in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen
A police car in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

As the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, police chief, Michael Wynn, gets ready to retire in early July, Mayor Linda Tyer has proposed increasing the position's salary and doing away with the requirement that the chief lives in the city. City councilors want more details.

The Pittsfield City Council Ordinances and Rules Subcommittee voted 3 to 1 this week against recommending an increase to a maximum of $173,550. Without action, the chief's salary tops out at $149,778.

Unlike his colleagues, Pete White, chair of the subcommittee, voted for the increase, in part, he said because the chief supervises officers who do much more than enforce the law.

"You're also a mental health worker. You're also making decisions based on if somebody is homeless or not. You're being called in for addiction cases," White said. "They're really a catch-all for any issues coming up in the community."

The mayor's office provided the subcommittee with salary data on more than dozen communities in Massachusetts, including Fall River, Springfield and Holyoke. The average salary was $172,569.

City councilor and subcommittee member Ken Warren said before making a decision he wants more information about salaries in communities that are similar to Pittsfield.

"We can do a lot better review of the information to make sure we're doing what we need to do to make us competitive, but yet deal with the financial situations that Pittsfield faces," Warren said.

The proposal to allow the police chief to live outside of Pittsfield was tabled for more discussion.

City councilor and subcommittee member Dina Guiel Lampiasi said, "When it comes to policing, I would really need to be convinced that this person is part of our community and understands our community and can be a partner with us, rather than somebody who just comes in to do their work and goes home."

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.

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