Midnight police shift makes history in Northampton

  • From left, Officer Ariangna Gonzalez, Officer Jessica Sullivan, Officer Rachel Bunce, Officer Heather Longley, and Officer Lauren Bolduc of the Northampton Police Department. NORTHAMPTON POLICE DEPARTMENT

Staff Writer
Published: 6/29/2021 8:23:06 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Police Department marked an historic milestone last week as it works to hire more female officers.

From 11 p.m. Thursday to 7 a.m. Friday, a patrol shift was composed of all women for the first time in the city’s history.

The Police Department said Officer Ariangna Gonzalez, Officer Jessica Sullivan, Officer Rachel Bunce, Officer Heather Longley, and Officer Lauren Bolduc worked the midnight shift that night.

“I didn’t think we were making history. We just came to work and thought it was neat to have all female officers,” Longley said. “I feel lucky to work at a department that has so many great officers, both male and female.”

Police Capt. Victor Caputo said the department did not plan a shift of all woman officers, and it’s “certainly possible” that it could happen again.

“It was a coincidence that all of our patrol assignments that night happened to be filled by women officers,” said Caputo. “The community can expect to see shifts of highly trained, professional and dedicated officers out on patrol on all shifts.”

Chief Jody D. Kasper was the first woman to lead the Northampton Police Department. She is one of 15 female police chiefs in the state, according to the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. She was promoted from captain of operations after the retirement of former police chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz in 2015.

The Northampton Police Department was the first in the state to sign a pledge known as the 30x30 Initiative, which aims to make women 30% of police recruits in 2030.

The 30x30 pledge, signed by about 80 other departments in the U.S. and Canada, comes from the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives and the New York University School of Law Policing Project. The two groups say that, currently, women make up only 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership in the U.S.

Of 14 police supervisor positions in Northampton, Kasper has said, she is currently the only woman. She said the department has 59 full-time officers, 10 of whom — about 17% – are women. Of the 11 officers hired in 2020, all four women remain on the force, according to Kasper.

“I hope one day there will be so many females on the force that the five of us will look back at this and wonder why this was such a big deal for us to work together,” Longley said.

“It’s exciting to see people joining NPD who bring new perspectives and experiences to this increasingly challenging career,” said Caputo. “We strive to best reflect the community that we serve.”

Applicants to the Northampton Police Department must be between 21 and 35 years of age, possess an associate’s degree, pass all trainings and physical tests, and live within 15 miles of the Northampton city limits within one year of the date of appointment.

There is no written exam, and applications are accepted year-round. The patrol officer salary range for the upcoming fiscal year, starting July 1, is $50,057.40 to $68,223.09.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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