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NEWS > 24 March 2008

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Police chief reinstated
BELCHERTOWN - Selectmen reinstated Francis R. Fox Jr. as police chief yesterday after five months of paid administrative leave but voted to place a letter of reprimand in his file, spelling out what he did wrong when he ran self defense courses in town buildings.

Fox, who has been a Belchertown police officer nearly 20 years, said last night he will be on the job again this morning.

"I am ready. The uniform is pressed," he said after the 90-minute open hearing ended.

"I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. I want to get started," he s... Read more

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Culver police chief indicted,

After a Culver police officer was indicted and placed on paid administrative leave, the small Jefferson County city is left with no police force.

Culver's only officer, Kecia Powell, 42, was indicted Friday on suspicion of stealing from the city and unlawfully using the city's credit card to pay a personal cell phone bill.

"It makes me angry," Culver resident Mark Newman said Sunday.

Many of the residents I spoke with were very angry about the allegations but also want to hear her side of the story.

"We should know what's going on. We're the people paying the taxes in this town," said Orvin Newman.

Powell has worked for Culver since May of last year.

"It's just embarassing for the city," said Mark Newman, another Culver resident.

A Jefferson County volunteer firefighter who worked closely with Powell says he can't believe the charges.

"Very surprised - surprised and shocked!" he said, declining to be named.

Powell is charged with two misdemeanor counts, first-degree official misconduct and second-degree attempted theft.

"In the time she was here, she was an asset to the city," said the volunteer firefighter.

Powell was placed on paid administrative leave when the investigation started on Feb. 15.

"We've got no police protection," said Culver resident Orvin Newman.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office normally takes backup calls for the city, but now it's answering all of them.

The sheriff's office says if they get a Culver call, it could take up to 15 minutes to respond.

"It takes quite awhile for Jefferson County sheriff (officers) to come out here," said Mark Newman.

It's a wait Culver business owner Charles May felt personally.

He declined to go on camera but agreed to share his story.

May says last week, two teenagers stole from his store. He called the city to get help from police, but without a local officer available, May says it took nearly three hours for a deputy to show up - and by then, the thieves were gone.


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