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New Police Chief Picked In Northampton

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WAMC
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A veteran police captain and published author has been nominated by the mayor of Northampton to be the city’s next police chief.  Jody Kasper would be the department’s first female chief.

Mayor David Narkewicz Tuesday announced his choice of Kasper, a 19-year veteran of the department and current Captain of Operations, to be the next chief.  The appointment is subject to confirmation by the City Council, but she appears to be an overwhelming favorite to lead the 65-person force.

  "This  is a department and a city that I love very much," said Kasper.

       Kasper would become Northampton’s first female police chief. Out of the state’s 351 police chiefs, nine are currently women, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Kasper said she had received emails from female officers across the country wishing her well.

" It is a small group across the country of female police officers, and I am happy I can be a role model for new people coming on," she said.

In addition to her on-the-job experience, which has included stints as a bicycle patrol officer and several years as a detective, Kasper has multiple master’s degrees in public administration and criminal justice.  She has published three books on police management issues, including one on preventing on-duty deaths.

Kasper said she has no qualms about taking the reins of a police department at a time when police across the country are under intense scrutiny.

" We are very accountable for everything we do. That is no problem. We are happy to meet those demands. I am happy to lead an agency that wants to work with the public," she said.

Kasper would replace Russell Sienkiewicz, who is retiring after 37 years with the police department, the last 21 as chief.  Sienkiewicz is credited with modernizing the department, instilling a high standard of professionalism, and leading the successful effort to build a new police headquarters.

Narkewicz said he conducted a nationwide search for a new police chief.  Last week he announced the names of two finalists, Kasper and Marc Montminy, chief of police in Manchester, Connecticut before giving the appointment to Kasper.

" ( Kasper) has the experience, the intellect, the skills and the integrity to lead our department into the future," Narkewicz said in his letter to the City Council recommending Kasper's appointment.

       Kasper and Montminy attended a June 11 public reception. Narkewicz said public comments strongly favored Kasper.

" She was the consensus candidate," he said.

 Northampton City Council President Bill Dwight said a simple majority vote by the nine-member council is required to confirm Kasper’s appointment.

"  It would probably behoove everybody if there is a unanimous vote, and I think that is very likely. All the councilors have tremendous respect for Jody," he said.

Narkewicz said he and Kasper must negotiate an employment contract and work out a transition plan.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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