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Greenfield police chief Haigh retires abruptly

Town hall in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
File Photo
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
The town hall in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

The embattled police chief in Greenfield on Friday announced his retirement, effective immediately.

Robert Haigh led the police force since 2013. In 2022, a jury in a civil case found Haigh racially discriminated against a former Greenfield officer, who is black, when a promotion was denied. Haigh, and the city, which is also a party in the civil case, have appealed.

Despite the verdict, the chief was returned to active duty after being placed on leave during the legal proceeding. That decision was made by former Mayor Roxann Wedegartner.

And right before Wedegartner lost re-election last fall, she granted Haigh a 20 percent pay raise.

"I have loved working with and for all of Greenfield,” Haigh said in a statement about his retirement. “It has been an honor to be the Chief of Police for this community, and for the men and women of this amazing agency. It is time to put my family first and move on to something new.”

The current mayor, Virginia Desorgher, who defeated Wedegartner last November, was not available for comment Friday. However, during the campaign, she was critical of her opponent’s handling of the police and the situation became a major issue.

Greenfield City Councilor Rachel Gordon said Haigh’s departure was “long overdue.” She said given the court case, Haigh should not have remained in charge in the first place.

"He's been running his department in a way that is very racist," Gordon said. "No one should be allowed to be remain in charge of a city department, whether it's the police or another department with that happening."

Gordon also took issue with the timing of Haigh’s announcement.

"Doing so on one day's notice is not a move designed for a smooth transition or leaving the department well supported," Gordon said. "Civil servants just don't wake up one morning and decide to retire. I imagine there was quite a bit of writing on the wall for him that he was probably going to be out one way or another."

According to the mayor’s office, Deputy Chief William Gordon will lead the department on an interim basis. Gordon himself received a 25% raise from former mayor Wedegartner at the same time Haigh also was granted his.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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