The new police chief of North Adams, Massachusetts, was officially sworn in this afternoon.
In Brayton Elementary School’s auditorium, elected officials, students, cops, family, and well-wishers gathered for Jason Wood’s big day.
Mayor Tom Bernard told students attending the ceremony that he and the new chief were glad they were there, saying it was important to them to hold it at a school.
“I don’t how many of you know this, but earlier in his career, Chief Wood was a school resource officer and he spent time our schools,” said the mayor.
Bernard noted that both he and Wood attended the North Adams public school system.
“And we want you to know that the police are here to support you, to look out for you, and in some ways – like that of your teachers – is to be educators and role models," he told the students. "And we hope that someday, some of you might consider a career in law enforcement in the North Adams Police Department.”
With that, the North Adams Color Guard escorted Wood to the stage to the sounds of Berkshire Highlanders piper Mary Brinton.
“I know many of you, and you know that public speaking’s really not my thing," said Wood. "But I have to say that this is – without even getting into this yet – this is pretty amazing to see this amount of support through this whole process. It’s been very emotional and humbling to me.”
Wood is a native of the city of around 14,000. He joined the force in 2003, and worked his way up the ranks to lieutenant in 2017 before Mayor Tom Bernard tapped him to fill the vacancy left by previous chief Michael Cozzaglio last month.
“As career progressed, I matured personally and professionally," said the chief. "I began to see the true meaning of law enforcement. Law enforcement is not about who’s making the most arrests. Law enforcement is not about writing the most tickets. It’s certainly not about the illusion of being an action-packed job. It’s about integrity. It’s about honor. It’s about pride, self-discipline, and being a leader in the community we serve.”
Wood, 42, is a graduate of Drury High School. He holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Berkshire Community College.
“You can expect to see stronger commitment to the community engagement, the continued aggressive approach in combating the opioid epidemic, and focusing on connecting victims of any kind to services within the community," he told the crowd. "The men and women under my command are shining examples of what it means to be true law enforcement professionals. I have no reservations in knowing that with their dedication and support, the goals and expectations I have will be accomplished.”
In closing, Bernard said Wood had already begun to connect with fellow law enforcement leaders in the county.
“He and I were in Pittsfield yesterday with the district attorney, beginning some really important conversations with the domestic violence task force that she’s convened," said the mayor. "I know that it is encouraging and inspiring to me to see that group come together. I know that that’s an issue that challenges us in North Adams as it does countywide as it does in every community in our commonwealth and our country.”
Wood’s three-year contract carries a starting salary of $87,500.