Part 1 in a series

SHIRLEY -- His desk is far from cleared and his dual duties as police chief and patrol officer will continue every working day until he steps down on the last day of June, Police Chief J. Gregory Massak said during a recent interview.

Driving to work that morning, for example, he spied the aftermath of a motor-vehicle accident: a Jeep that had hit a pole on Front Street was parked at a nearby trailer park, driver nowhere in sight. Now, he'd have to follow up and write an accident report, he said.

At the same time he's dealing with daily duties of a patrol officers, there are administrative duties as chief, he said, such as the safety meeting he was due to attend in less than an hour at AyerShirley Regional High School.

Massak said working relations between the Police Department and the public school district improved significantly under Superintendent Carl Mock, who is leaving at the end of the school year, and he hopes the friendly flow continues under new administrations in both departments.

"They share helpful information" on a need-to-know basis, Massak said of district officials, alerting police if a student has behavior problems that might lead to trouble.

And it's a two-way street, he continued, so if there's a police matter linked to a student, "we let the school know so they can keep an eye out..." he said.

Beyond confidential issues, his department also takes an active role on timely issues such as emergency situations and lockdown scenarios.


Recently, for example, Massak spoke to Ayer Shirley Middle School students and staff about how to stay safe if an intruder entered the school, including where to go if they were not in a classroom at the time.

Clearly, Massak enjoys positive contact with the public and considers interaction with the schools an important part of his job, but it takes some juggling to fit it all in.

Gesturing toward stacks of paperwork on his desk, Massak said he has plenty of unfinished business to wrap up. Reports. Grants. Completing a lengthy review of department policies. Updating police training records. The list goes on.

After 35 years in public service and almost 30 years with the Shirley Police Department, Massak's long career has had its ups and downs, he said. But he might not have retired yet if circumstances were different.