Amherst Police Captain Jennifer Gundersen named South Hadley’s next police chief

  • Police Captain Jennifer Gundersen of the Amherst Police Department will take over as South Hadley’s chief of police on Jan. 4, 2019. Greg Bernier ITB Photography

Staff Writer
Published: 11/9/2018 12:11:41 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Police Captain Jennifer Gundersen of the Amherst Police Department has been named as South Hadley’s next chief of police.

She will replace current chief Steve Parentela, who will retire on Jan. 3, and Gundersen will take over the position on Jan. 4, according to the South Hadley Select Board.

Gundersen has 24 years of experience with the police force, starting as a patrol officer and eventually moving up the ranks to captain.

“I am honored and fortunate to be considered for the position of police chief for the South Hadley Police Department, an agency whose police officers have a strong reputation within the law enforcement community as committed and talented professionals,” Gundersen said in a statement emailed to the Gazette. “I am looking forward to Tuesday when I will have the opportunity to meet the South Hadley Select Board and their constituents at the next Select Board meeting.”

Over 25 applicants from five states applied to the position.

Parentela said that he is “very happy” for Gundersen, who he has known as an officer for a while.

He added that South Hadley has “great officers working and serving the community,” and continued that Gundersen “is definitely going to be more than capable of taking over the helm as chief of police.”

Town Administrator Mike Sullivan said in a statement that he is “confident Captain Gundersen will be an outstanding leader in the mold of those who have preceded her as South Hadley police chief.”

Gundersen will “help set a course for the future of the department in the complex field of police work,” Sullivan added.

In an announcement, Select Board members noted that Amherst is a considerably larger community than South Hadley, but that both towns are examples of a “diverse college community.”

“I would like to thank everyone who gave input to this process, including Assistant Town Administrator Jennifer Wolowicz and Chief Parentela who offered great insight and guidance to the appointing authority,” Sullivan said. 

He continued, “Thank you, as well, to the citizens who participated in the Symposium of Understanding to give input into what they would like to see in a police chief. And thank you to the South Hadley Selectboard for having confidence in me to bring them an outstanding appointee for their approval.”

Gundersen holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stonehill College, and master’s degrees in criminal justice administration and public administration. She lives in Easthampton with her wife and family.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at 

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