With the restirement of Amherst Police Chief John Askey, the Town Board Monday evening is expected to approve appointing Det. Capt. Scott Chamberlin as his successor.
A 27-year veteran, Chamberlin has been in charge of investigative services and training for the 150-member department. His career includes work in narcotics, sexual victim units and intelligence. He also comes from "Blue Bloods" family, the son of a former Cheektowaga chief and grandson of a cop.
Chamberlin was a key figure in the town's police reform and reorganization plan, sent to Albany last month, along with hundreds of other departments across New York. The plan includes a focus on training and mental health.
Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa said mental health was a priority of the Town Board.
"That was a point of emphasis that was put into the interview process during the selection, was making sure there's an emphasis placed on mental health, mental health awareness, mental health preparedness, dealing with the public with mental health issues and also being able to deal with the mental health of officers," said Kulpa.
Police departments everywhere are grappling with how to change the government practices that have made police the front line of the mental health system. There is pressing community activism to end that and instead bring in trained mental health professionals to deal with situations where 911 is called for someone in crisis.
"Your next job as the Town Board is to hire people, good people, in positions to succeed, that you trust," Kulpa said, "and if you trust your personnel, especially at the top, then you have to have faith that you're going to be successful and that you're not going to see the problems that other places are seeing."