chief rick wilcox

A longtime police chief in western Massachusetts is starting the first week of his retirement.

For the first time in 43 years, Rick Wilcox is no longer in uniform as a member of the Stockbridge Police Department.

“It’s very hard to accomplish something lasting, but I would hope it’s to set a tone or a culture for the kind of department that reflects the town of Stockbridge,” Wilcox said. “I think if that was done, then I’d be happy.”

In recent months there have been a number of changes in police leadership within the small towns that dot western Massachusetts.

Whenever there is leadership change in an organization, there are going to be growing pains. However, those pains may be longer and more damaging when it pertains to small town police chiefs who are replaced because of alleged wrongdoing. Brian Buchner is the president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, or NACOLE.

The town of Stockbridge has found a replacement for its longtime police chief.

Robert Eaton Jr., of Smithfield, Rhode Island will be moving west to the small Berkshire town of Stockbridge. Captain Eaton is a 23-year veteran of the Smithfield Police Department and is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy. Stockbridge Selectwoman Deb McMenamy chaired the town’s search committee, which held its first meeting in August.