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Greenfield and sheriff work out deal to cover overnight police shifts

A van from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
State of Massachusetts
A van from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The mayor of Greenfield, Massachusetts, says she's happy the city was able to work out a deal with the local sheriff to help provide police protection 24 hours a day.

Since early March, state police have had to answer calls in Greenfield between 3:00 and 7:00 a.m. That's after the chief said the department could not afford to fill those shifts.

The city's police department has faced staffing constraints in the past year. In 2022, the City Council voted to cut more than $400,000 from the police budget after the department lost a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Greenfield will resume overnight coverage in April with two new officers and assistance from deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

Roxann Wedegartner, mayor of Greenfield, said the agreement is good news for residents.

"These shifts will be filled with trained police officers that are under the direction of the Greenfield Police Department," she said.

Wedegartner said the agreement with the sheriff's office runs through June.

By the end of the year, two new recruits should be ready to join the force. In between, the department plans to shift staff to provide coverage around the clock.

Wedegartner said she hopes the City Council will fully fund the police department when it takes up her proposed budget next month.

"What we typically fund in a budget is 34 police officers," she said. "If it gets cut, similarly as it did last year, then we are back where we started with not being able to fully staff all of our shifts."

In a press release, Sheriff Chris Donelan stressed that the agreement was a temporary one.

“Greenfield needs and deserves a fully funded, fully staffed police Department,” Donelan said. “We are willing and able to help out the city, but my primary focus is the work we do at the House of Correction and we cannot lose sight of that."

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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