South Hadley police chief announces retirement; search for new chief begins

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SOUTH HADLEY – Police Chief Steve Parentela, who has been with the department 30 years, said Tuesday he will retire in January.

He became police chief in September 2016.

“He did an excellent job, and we are beginning the search immediately for his successor,” Town Administrator Michael J. Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the recruitment “will be an open tryout for all qualified candidates.” He expected the position would be listed on the town’s official website by Friday and in professional publications in the coming weeks.

Parentela joined the South Hadley department in 1988, rising to the rank of lieutenant before his promotions to interim and permanent chief.

In a statement, Parentela said he spent several months reflecting on whether to retire. After discussions with his family, he filed for retirement effective Jan. 4.

He entered law enforcement as a special police officer in 1983. He placed service to the community as his highest priority.

“I have been fortunate to have served as a police officer in the community where I grew up,” Parentela said in a prepared statement. “I am also very fortunate South Hadley has had so many great people living, working and serving the community.

“It has been a privilege to work in partnership with many of these individuals with the common cause of continuing to make South Hadley a great place to live, work and receive an education,” he said.

He thanked the department’s rank-and-file for their dedication to the job and for protecting the residents of South Hadley.

“They will always have my support, gratitude, and admiration for what they do. I have been truly honored to serve with some of the finest police officers I know,” Parentela said.

Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in a related field, five years as a supervisor in policing or public safety. Master’s degrees applicants are preferred.

In 2016, a three-member panel interviewed four finalists, including Parentela, for the top spot. Twenty-seven candidates from 11 states applied.

The Select Board approved Parentela’s hiring 5-0 and accepted a $125,000 annual salary.

Select Board Chairman Ira Brezinsky said, “Steve (Parentela) has been a tremendous asset to the community for decades, first as a reserve officer, moving up the ranks, taking on additional responsibilities, and ultimately culminating in his appointment as chief two years ago.

“We will miss his service to the town greatly but wish him all the best as he moves into the next phase of his life,” Brezinsky said.

Brezinsky said Sullivan would guide the hiring process. “This will certainly be on our agenda going forward with a goal of making the best possible decisions, using the most effective and transparent process,” he said.

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