Northampton Police Chief Kasper chosen to take over Nantucket police force

Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper has accepted the position of police chief in Nantucket, the town announced Monday.

Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper has accepted the position of police chief in Nantucket, the town announced Monday. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 10-30-2023 6:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After 25 years of service and a lifetime spent in western Massachusetts, Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper is leaving the city to take on a new role as chief of police for the idyllic island town of Nantucket.

“Pursuing this opportunity and accepting this conditional offer was an incredibly difficult decision,” Kasper said in a statement. “However, after 25 years with Northampton PD and in my ninth year as Chief of Police, I feel it is a good time for this transition.”

Kasper beat out Richard Flynn, an Arlington police captain, and Mark Newport, police chief in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Nantucket’s current police chief, William Pittman, who has served the island for 19 years, is retiring.

Nantucket officials said in a Monday statement that Kasper had officially accepted the position, but contract negotiations are still pending.

“Chief Kasper brings an extraordinary wealth of law enforcement and community policing expertise and experience to the position,” the statement said. “A community event will be scheduled in the coming weeks to welcome Chief Kasper to Nantucket.”

After Pittman announced his plans to retire in February, the town formed a five-person search group to pick the next chief, as well as enlisting the help of a consultancy group, Public Safety Consultants LLC, to help determine qualifications and leadership skills required for the position. More than 40 candidates were considered for the position, according to the town.

Brooke Mohr, a member of Nantucket’s Select Board the police chief search group, said she was impressed with the amount of research Kasper completed about the island community during her interview process.

“She clearly invested a lot of time learning about our community. When she answered questions, it was obvious she’d done her homework,” Mohr said. “[Nantucket] is not your town next door, we have some very unique demands. So someone who makes that much of an effort to learn about those unique things in our community, it stood out in the process.”

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The hiring would mark an end to Kasper’s 25-year career with the NPD, where she rose through the ranks to become chief of police in 2015, the first woman to do so in the city. During Kasper’s tenure as chief, she has overseen numerous challenges to the department, including staffing shortages, the opioid crisis and ongoing debates over policing, heightened after the George Floyd protests that occurred in 2020.

Kasper said that once the hiring process was completed that she would formally notify Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra of her departure.

“When that occurs, I will be doing all that I can to support the members of NPD and Mayor Sciarra as the City prepares for this transition in leadership of the police department,” Kasper said. “It has been my privilege to serve the City of Northampton as the Chief of Police.”

Sciarra declined to comment for this story, saying she was waiting for a formal letter of resignation before issuing a statement.

Northampton City Council President Jim Nash said the city would seek community input in the search for its next chief, and that the hiring process would be determined within the next few weeks.

“I really have appreciated Chief Kasper’s service to the city,” Nash said. “Whatever the issues are, she’s always been willing to meet people one-on-one to discuss them.”

Kasper was born and raised in western Massachusetts, attending Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Greenfield Community College, and Westfield State University. She has received numerous accolades and awards over her career, including being named Woman Law Enforcement Executive of The Year by the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives in 2021, and a distinguished alum award from Greenfield Community College in 2017.

Nantucket is a popular tourist destination in the summer months and has some of the priciest real estate in Massachusetts. Nantucket town officials have stated that housing will be secured for Kasper as a condition of the job.

Kasper is expected to start sometime in mid- to late-November, according to the town of Nantucket’s website. An official start date has not yet been announced.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.