The Recorder – So what happened ?: Befriending the police
In 2015, I decided that Elmer’s Store needed a bar. Some applauded the idea, others warned me about blackouts, but I added one and true to all predictions it brought both money and a crazy town to my small restaurant.
Shortly after, we attracted a guy that no one had seen before; a man who discovered and made Elmer his new favorite haunt. He would come in every night, sit at the bar and tell dark stories that seemed to involve the pleasure of wrongs inflicted on others, making our late night staff nervous.
At the time, we had a brand new police chief in town, a woman named Beth Bezio, whose husband, Fred, was one of her agents.
I was just impressed that she married a man who wasn’t afraid to let his wife be his literal chef, so I went to talk to this guy’s Chef Beth at the bar. I had never been able to learn his real name, so Beth suggested that she and Agent Fred come and spend a few nights at the bar in their simple, non-police clothes, and see if they could find out who he was and what, exactly, he was doing.
The chief of police and her husband walk into a bar, and at the time they were so new to town that none of our regular customers recognized them. Chief Beth and Officer Fred did their investigative work in the friendliest manner possible, learned of the man’s motives, and then issued and enforced a no-trespassing order, ensuring that Mr. Scary Man is never entertained at our expense again.
There are a lot of things that make you appreciate a Police Chief, and this was my first with Chief Beth.
Since then, she’s helped me with a number of issues, and I hear enough about what she’s doing in town that it’s a good time to call Chef Beth Day! (It’s unofficial – I made it up, earlier.) Someone has said that, not since Walt Zalinski, Ashfield’s first paid chief in the 1960s, a police chief in Ashfield was as loved as Beth. Walt is still famous for dressing up as Santa Claus and driving his police car to children’s homes on Christmas Eve, offering Christmas goodies in the form of gifts and candy.
Brian Dickinson, Ashfield’s first juvenile offender at the time (now reformed), said: “Walt used to sort things out at the kitchen table, where they should establish yourself. “Beth has the same mindset when possible, just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she’s not tough when necessary. Beth has the gift of Stand. -Back Insight – take a big picture of a bad situation and figure out how to deal with it least incendiary methods, building where it needs it, staying calm for as long as it can.
She keeps a supply of toys in the cruiser, in hopes of allaying children’s fears, whether it’s because she had to stop a speeder accompanying her child for the ride, or just in daily interaction.
At the start of the pandemic, the elderly suddenly dreaded leaving their homes. Beth teamed up with local collective Ashfield Needles and Threads to sew masks that her officers distributed to Elders in Ashfield. The stories the officers brought back were those of fear and loneliness. People were happy to receive masks but happier to receive a visitor. Beth turned to Ashfield’s resource officer, Gretchen Gerstner, who also owns the bakery, Baked, in Shelburne Falls, and the two created a plan in which Gretchen made treats that she personally delivered. .
As the year progressed, the Sweet Treat visits brought new reports of frustration from beneficiaries trying to set up appointments for the vaccine. Many older people lack computer literacy, and those who could make contact have been unable to secure appointments for months. Chief Beth learned that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was administering injections at assisted living facilities, so she called and scheduled a vaccination clinic for Ashfield Town Hall, giving, at least, the first injection. right now.
I asked Beth what made her become Chief of Police. She said she started her life as an art student, which explains the present exhibit at the Ashfield Post Office, a collection of beautiful drawings by Police Chief Beth Bezio. But it was her desire to help people, to really help them in a way that few other jobs allow, that drew her to the police academy, and then, ultimately, to the police station. first chef at Ashfield.
For Beth, it’s all about community – recognizing that community makes us safer. And for those who say, “There is no crime in Ashfield”, she knows it, we know it, there is. As she points out, “the crime does not have to be violent”, even if sometimes it manifests itself as well within families as on the part of strangers. Crime sneaks in the form of fraud and theft, and the police help with animal control, mediation and sometimes even care for our elders.
So happy, celebrate Chef Beth’s day regardless of which day you read this Thank you, Chef Beth! We greatly appreciate your work and you.
Nan Parati lives and works in Ashfield, where she found her home and community after Hurricane Katrina. She can be reached at [email protected]