Belchertown names Pronovost police chief

Amherst captain Pronovost earns Belchertown job

  • CHRISTOPHER PRONOVOST CHRISTOPHER PRONOVOST

For the Gazette
Published: 4/15/2016 10:40:55 PM

BELCHERTOWN —  It took the Select Board less than 30 minutes Friday night to unanimously choose Amherst Police Capt. Christopher Pronovost as the new chief of police.

Pronovost will now undergo a background check and a physical examination, and the board will negotiate a contract with the South Hadley native who now lives in Granby and has worked in law enforcement for three decades.

Aponte said the new chief’s pay will be negotiated, and that a starting date has not been established.

Pronovost said after the vote that the Select Board’s unanimous support was “humbling.”

His first task as the new chief, Pronovost said, would be to “meet as many people as I can and to hit the ground running.”

He added that his top priority will be “to keep the town safe for the people who live here and for the people who are passing through.”

The selection of Pronovost concluded a six-month process that generated acrimony in the town when a nine-member search committee failed to recommend an internal candidate as one of the three finalists the Select Board interviewed last week.

The other two finalists for the job were Lt. Mark Saloio, who currently works in Sturbridge, and Northampton Police Lt. Robert Powers Jr.

Pronovost will succeed former chief Francis Fox Jr., who resigned in September after a Granby Police report surfaced indicating that he was drunk during a traffic stop in February 2015, though he was not charged in that incident.

Select Board Chairman Ronald Aponte said Friday he is confident that any hard feelings that may have lingered between his board and the Police Department will be resolved as Pronovost moves into his new position.

“I think the force is going to recognize the same thing that the search committee and the board did that Chief Pronovost has a tremendous amount of experience and a tremendous amount of skills and that he will be a tremendous chief of police,” said Aponte.

Pronovost has held numerous positions as he worked his way up through the ranks of the Amherst Police Department since joining it in 1990. He has been captain of operations since 2010.

Earlier in his career he served as a Granby police officer for three years. He has taught constitutional law through the Western Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association since 2003, and is an adjunct instructor and student adviser at Holyoke Community College.

Select Board member Brenda Aldrich said she was especially impressed by Pronovost’s response to a question she asked during the interview about how he would respond to child abuse.

“I am a survivor of abuse,” said Aldrich, adding that “the look in his eye” as he responded to her question sold her on supporting Pronovost for the chief’s job. “If he could reach me at 57, he will be able to reach somebody at 6, 7 or 8,” she said. “I got the feeling that our children will be safe.”

Aponte said during the deliberations that Pronovost was his top pick for the job based on the experience he has had as a commander and in the area of financial management.

Beyond that, there are what Aponte called “the intangibles” and that he came away from the interview with a “gut feeling” that Pronovost is the right person for the job.

Eric Goldscheider can be reached at eric.goldscheider@gmail.com.


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