New England News
5:34 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Mass. Secretary of Public Safety Makes First Stop in Berkshires

Massachusetts’ new Secretary of Public Safety began a tour of the commonwealth today with a stop in Lenox to meet with public safety officials from several Berkshire County communities.

Recently appointed Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral visited with members of the public including lawmakers, building inspectors, fire chiefs, and law enforcement from across Berkshire County at the Lenox town hall.

Cabral, a former sheriff of Suffolk County, said in listening to concerns from the public she learned a great deal about the Berkshires.

During the two-hour discussion, a wide variety of issues and needs for state funding were presented to Cabral.

Lenox fire chief Dan Clifford suggested that more online training be offered to volunteer fire departments.

Pittsfield police chief Michael Wynn spoke to the secretary, as well as all members of the Berkshire legislative delegation, about the need he sees for police departments in neighboring communities to work more closely to detain pursued, suspected criminals who pass over town lines without mutual aid agreements.

Wynn said that this would prevent a complicated “patchwork” of mutual aid agreements among the many small Berkshire communities.

The theme of regionalization and community cooperation was also echoed by Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless. Capeless spoke of the success of the county-wide Berkshire County Drug Task Force, which since 2007 has had its state funding cut through tight budget years during the recession.  Capeless spoke about need to restore funding to beyond 2007 levels to expand what is now called the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force.

Others, including building inspectors, discussed issues involving online permitting, and how some small towns including West Stockbridge, have difficulty paying a state fee for maintaining online permitting information.

After the discussion, Secretary Cabral brainstormed on how small Berkshire towns might be able to gain more access to federal grants to assist in matters of public safety, especially if the program is more likely to be awarded to a larger city.

Secretary Cabral will continue meeting with public safety officials in other regions of Massachusetts.

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