The Recorder – Veteran Greenfield officer lands Erving job following budget cuts

ERVING – Following controversial police budget cuts in Greenfield, 24-year-old Greenfield Police Constable Laura Gordon has been appointed to join Erving’s force as a full-time patrol officer.

Gordon, who completed her final day with Greenfield Police last week, revealed in a series of Facebook comments that she started the hiring process with Erving after consulting with Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner. Erving Police Chief Robert Holst said at Tuesday’s selection committee meeting, where Gordon was formally appointed, that she was “incredible” in terms of her initiative throughout the process. hiring.

Recognizing her 31 years in total experience as a police officer, Holst and the Selectboard have agreed to appoint Gordon to a one-year contract with a start date of July 1 and an above-average starting salary of 29, $03 per hour.

Greenfield councilors made cuts to the proposed budget for the police service’s 2023 fiscal year at a May 19 meeting. These cuts included $400,000 for salaries, bringing the salary line down to $3.1 million, and $25,000 in expenses, bringing the expense line down to $275,000. The budget decisions came just two weeks after a jury verdict found the Greenfield Police Department and Chief of Police Robert Haigh Jr. discriminated against former officer Patrick Buchanan, the only black officer in the department when he was denied a promotion in 2014.

Gordon’s husband, acting Greenfield Police Chief William Gordon, had previously explained that due to union obligations, any cuts to money in the wages and salaries line of the budget would result in the most senior officers being fired. recently hired. Those officers will likely include Brendan Smith, Adam Belville, Marcus Johansson, Jedadiah Henry, Matthew Llewelyn and Nicholas Limoges. William Gordon previously said his wife submitted her request for a year-long leave from the Greenfield Police Department to save the job of Officer Ella Sinigur.

“After much soul-searching, I have decided to step down from my duties as a Greenfield Police Officer so that a junior officer, who would otherwise be laid off due to recent budget cuts, can remain on the force,” said Laura Gordon in a city. June 10 press release. action plan for the future of the Greenfield Police Department.

“I respect Officer Gordon’s decision, but I also deeply regret it as I told him,” Wedegartner said in the statement. “The absence of Constable Gordon from the Greenfield Police Department will not only be felt by his colleagues, but by our entire community.”

Laura Gordon did not respond to repeated requests for comment regarding her potential new position at Erving. William Gordon said his wife did not want to speak to the media at this time, citing recent criticism on social media and a desire not to jeopardize his relationship with the Erving Police Department.

While in Greenfield, Laura Gordon has served as a community resource officer since the start of 2021, as the city sought to focus more on community policing. Gordon said in February 2021 that she loves having face-to-face interactions with the public, whether she’s with one of her comfort dogs, talking with homeless people, feeding those who are hungry or listening to a business owner.

“I hike on trails where I know I will encounter certain populations,” she said at the time. “I want to watch them and make sure they are safe. I try to get them services, if they need them.

Given his 31 years of experience in total, Erving officials discussed what an appropriate salary might be before settling on $29.03 an hour — a Grade 2, Step 14, rate. if Laura Gordon accepts it.

Holst initially argued for Gordon to start even higher, but Selectboard member William Bembury expressed concern at the prospect of a newly hired patrolman earning a salary comparable to – or higher than – a sergeant’s salary. existing within the department.

“The reason for my questions is that I want to be fair to the officer and I also want to be fair to the sergeant,” Bembury said. “I would like to pay her for 31 years of service, but for a term of employment of one year, I do not currently see doing so.

“While we would like to do more if we could, we want to be aware of the budget and the taxpayers, and try to find a balance there,” added the chairman of the selection committee, Jacob Smith. “Unfortunately, it may not be at the level she had as compensation at Greenfield, but it’s about the best we can do.”

Holst responded amicably, believing that this compromise should suffice.

“I think that’s generous, gentlemen,” he told the Selectboard. “Just the conversation I had with her, I think she’ll be happy with it. I can’t see her no.

Smith expressed excitement at the prospect of a veteran officer joining Erving’s ranks.

“It’s a rare opportunity, no matter how long – assuming she accepts – she stays with us, to have someone with that kind of experience to be with us,” Smith said.

In a comment on Facebook, Laura Gordon said the transition between departments will involve a multi-faceted adjustment for her.

“Either way, this will be financially changing for my family,” she wrote, “and emotional for me because I’m leaving a community I’ve had a relationship with for 24 years.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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