Blandford discusses police merger, public safety and economic impact

Hampden County

Despite having no police force, Blandford residents told 22News they feel safer than ever.

Blandford Selectboard Chair Cara Letendre told 22News the town is now looking to combine resources with neighboring hilltowns.

Not what you would expect to hear from a town without a police force. Last week, Blandford’s interim police chief and 3 officers resigned, citing safety concerns.  

State Police are now patrolling Blandford, which hopes to save money by merging police forces with neighboring hilltowns.

Blandford, Russell, Montgomery, Chester, Middlefield, and Huntington already share a council on aging and school district.

“We currently budget $47,000 for the police department,” Letendre said. “If we combine, would we be putting that $47,000 in any sort of matching another town? Or would we be reducing those costs? It might be a matter of we’re putting the funding in, but now we’re able to get more services and equipment for that funding.”

That $47,000 budget was split among the four officers, who worked around 25 hours per week, generating revenues from fines and fees.

With an increasingly aging population and a declining younger population moving into town. The town of Blandford is now working with the Hilltown Collaborative, as well as, as the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, to attract a younger demographic into town.

The PVPC’s Joshua Garcia cited a state report that showed the six towns won’t have enough money to cover their expenses. Garcia said the PVPC secured a $100,000 to hire an economic director shared by the six towns.

There is still no timeline on when, or if, the police departments will merge.

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