By Tammy Daniels
01:41PM / Tuesday, August 25, 2015
ADAMS, Mass. — State Police Lt. William C. Blackmer Jr. of North Adams was feted on Saturday night for his nearly 40 years of service in law enforcement to the state and its citizens.
Blackmer had led the Cheshire Barracks since 2008, capping 31 years with the state police. He retired at the end of June.
Dozens of emergency responders, family and friends were on hand at the Bounti-Fare to usher the lieutenant into his retirement.
“The job of a station commander is the most difficult in our department,” said B Troop Commander Maj. Barry O’Brien. “You’re the one management guy on an island of troopers and sergeants.
“You’re tasked with trying to motivate, discipline, encourage, guide, mentor all these new troopers and sometimes some of the older troopers as well. … It’s a daunting task and I think the fact that Bill spent seven years as a station commander in Cheshire is a testament to his character and his energy.”
Blackmer, a 1975 graduate of Northampton High School, earned his associate’s degree from Holyoke Community College and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Westfield State College.
He began his 38-year career in law enforcement working first at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Smith College, before becoming a member of the Northampton Police Department. After graduating the State Police Academy in 1985, he was assigned at various times at state police barracks in Northampton, Shelburne Falls, Pittsfield and later Cheshire, when the the barracks was moved there from Pittsfield.
He also has been involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and serves on the board of directors of Berkshire County Kids’ Place.
Blackmer moved to North Adams in the mid-1980s with his wife, Lisa, and his children Jennifer and William “Billy” Blackmer.
“It’s been a great career, but I’m certain he’s a greater man,” said Billy Blackmer, recalling how his father had taken care of his family and job while pursuing his degree. “I’m very proud to call Lt. Blackmer my dad … he’s always been an incredibly hard worker as long as I’ve known him. …
“I learned an amazing amount of lessons from him about being a man, a family man, as I know now with my daughter Lena. … I really hope you have great opportunities after such an amazing career.”
Lisa Blackmer, as North Adams City Council president, did the honors of presenting him with resolutions of thanks on behalf of Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Richard Alcombright. State Rep. Paul Mark brought resolutions offering “sincerest congratulations” from the House and Senate, and also on behalf of state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.
Capt. Bruce Hiorns of the Northampton barracks presented Blackmer with a plaque from the Massachusetts State Police Commissioned Officers Association. Florida Fire Chief Michael Bedini also made a presentation.
State Police Sgt. Andrew Canata was the emcee and introduced a slide show of Blackmer’s career, family life and his favorite parts of the Berkshires. He said Blackmer could be found at just about any Berkshire event, and was a good mentor and guide to those under his command.
“He had trust and faith in his employees to be able to make the decisions and deal with the proper input as to how things were going to transpire,” he said. “He wasn’t afraid of change.”
Canata joked about Blackmer’s “cafeteria lady fan club” in the local schools, passing on a plate of cookies from Gabriel Abbott Memorial School and Principal Heidi Dugal. O’Brien prompted laughter at the lieutenant’s loquaciousness, telling a story of how Hiorns had left to run an errand once after Blackmer called him with a question.
Coming back, he told O’Brien, “I left the phone on the desk, he should be about done with his question now.”
O’Brien described Blackmer as “a tremendous asset,” someone who was plugged in 24/7 to everything going on within his command and community.
“One of the qualities we look for in a commander is having an investment in where you work,” he said. “I don’t know anyone more sincere who cares more about the state police than Bill Blackmer. He cares about the troopers and sergeants who work for him. … He cares about the community itself.”