Hadley extends acting Police Chief Damion Shanley’s assignment for six months; safety complex will carry name of former chief Dennis Hukowicz

Sunday, March 16, 2014
HADLEY — The Select Board has extended the appointment of acting Police Chief Damion P. Shanley for six months while it figures out how to launch a search for a permanent chief.

Shanley, a former sergeant who joined the Hadley Police Department in 1995, had been appointed to a three-month term in December 2013 while the late former police chief, Dennis J. Hukowicz, was on sick leave.

The appointment expired last week and Shanley’s new employment contract extends to Sept. 3.

Board members said they will need at least six months work out the details of a search for the town’s next chief.

“It’s too delicate of a position, it’s too important of a position,” Select Board member Brian C. West said at a meeting last month.

Select Board member Guilford Mooring said he would like the public to be involved in the police chief search process and wants to engage in “exploratory talks” about the department with the acting chief as the board moves forward.

In addition to Shanley, the board extended acting Police Sgt. John Robitaille’s assignment for six months. Robitaille earlier had been named acting sergeant for three months to fill Shanley’s former position.

The town’s new employment agreement with Shanley provides a gross weekly salary of $1,905 and states that his assigned position may be shortened at the discretion of the Select Board. The agreement also ensures that when Shanley’s assignment ends, he can return to his former position in his bargaining unit without loss of pay, seniority or other benefits.

Safety complex renamed

In other police news, the Select Board unanimously agreed to rename the town’s public safety complex for Hukowicz, who died Feb. 2 after a battle with cancer. Hukowicz, 61, had been the town’s full-time police chief since 1993 and a member of the force for 39 years.

The building at 15 East St. is now officially known as the Dennis Hukowicz Public Safety Complex, according to the Select Board. The town is expected to erect a new sign at the complex.

“I think it’s well deserved, and I think it would be a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the town,” Select Board Chairman Daniel Dudkiewicz said.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.