Vice President for Finance and Administration Ben Hammond has announced deputy police chief Ray LaBarre will serve as interim chief of police for Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Hampshire Colleges until a replacement is found for current Chief Robert Smith, who will leave his position July 6. LaBarre now oversees Hampshire College police operations for the three-college department.
Smith joined the Department in October 2010, following a 26-year career with the Massachusetts State Police. At the time, he and his wife relocated from Arlington to South Hadley with their youngest son, while two college-age children remained in the Boston area.
"I look on my tenure as chief for the three colleges as a highlight of my 30-year policing career, but right now it's best for my family to return to the Boston area," said Smith, who has accepted the position of director of public safety at Emerson College.
"Bob has accomplished a great deal in a relatively short period of time, including overseeing the completion of new police headquarters on both the Mount Holyoke and Smith campuses," said Hammond. "We thank him for his service and his many contributions to the department and the colleges, and we wish him well."
LaBarre has been a member of the Campus Police department since 1985. He has led the Campus Police operations at Hampshire for the past four years, and he served the Mount Holyoke campus for more than 20 years. A native of South Hadley, LaBarre is a graduate of Holyoke Community College and the Campus Police Academy. He is certified in crime scene search, sexual assault investigations, and as a DARE Officer, and he has been trained in managing critical incidents for higher education institutions.
“Ray has done an excellent job in leading the force at Hampshire and strengthening connections between the department and the Hampshire community. He has also been a key leader in the department overall from the beginning of the three-campus partnership,” said Hammond. “As interim chief, he will spend time on all three campuses but will be based at Mount Holyoke, where the administrative functions of the department reside."
Hammond also said LaBarre is working with the outgoing chief to effect a smooth transition.