Hinsdale Police Officers Urge Board To Reinstate Chief
Frustration continues to mount over the controversial status of the police chief and Select Board in the small western Massachusetts town of Hinsdale.
In November, the town’s Select Board placed Police Chief Nancy Daniels on paid administrative leave because she failed to complete state required training needed to serve as a full-time officer. With the support of the town’s four other police officers, Officer Rodney Maloney presented a letter to the board Wednesday saying Daniels' absence is hurting the town’s 2,000 residents.
“We are hoping that the Board can put aside any personal issues with the Chief and let her come back to work in a part-time capacity until she completes the full-time academy,” said Maloney as he read from the letter.
Due to a hysterectomy and a subsequent ankle injury, Daniels has not completed the six-month Municipal Police Training Academy. A 13-year veteran of the force, Daniels was hired as chief in January and was granted a 270 day wavier to serve full-time without the training. It has since expired. Select Chair Bonnie Conner sent a letter to the MPTC requesting an extension of the waiver, but omitted the reasons why Daniels did not complete the training. Conner says she did not feel comfortable discussing another person’s health issues. The request was denied. At Wednesday’s meeting, Daniels’ attorney Mark Brennan asked the board to write another letter requesting a new waiver, this time consulting Daniels before sending it.
“After talking with Chief Daniels, perhaps if we reviewed that letter and had put more into it, then you wouldn’t be in the position you are today.”
Selectman Bruce Marshall entertained a motion to write the letter, but Selectman Bill Goddard wanted to hold off until he could review the minutes from the MPTC board meeting of Dec. 18. Conner also wants to hold off on the letter.
“I will contact legal tomorrow [Thursday],” said Conner accompanied by groans of disapproval from the crowd.”
Shortly after, Officer Maloney escorted resident Jim Sullivan out of the meeting at the request of Conner after questions were raised about why Daniels couldn’t work on a part-time basis. Brennan voiced concerns about Daniels being the only officer authorized in town to handle certain police and legal matters.
“She has not been able to testify in various court cases do to orders of the Select Board,” Brennan said. “Those court cases have allowed a couple of second offender drunk drivers to walk free.”
With the signatures of more than 300 residents, former Select Chair David Kokindo, who stepped down because he says he did not like the way town government was operating, requested a special town meeting for a recall of elected officials. This follows an earlier attempt in December that was denied because he improperly filed the request. Conner, who has chaired the board for a little more than half a year, says the only reason the townspeople don’t support her is because of the decision regarding Daniels.
“We have a certain bunch of people whose criteria it is to do nothing but give you a bad time and waste your time with frivolous things,” said Conner.
Resident John Smith expressed his frustration over the disruptive meetings where attendees nit-pick nearly every decision the board makes.
“The outbursts…they have to mellow down a little bit,” Smith said. “It’s not helping the town or the people.”
Daniels says she believes the issue centers around Conner having a personal vendetta with her.
“I really hope that we don’t have to get to a point that we’re going to have to go to a lawsuit,” Daniels said. “But if we have to go to a lawsuit, my lawyer is all ready to do that.”
Conner says she will work with Brennan to draft a new letter. Meanwhile, the Select Board is reviewing applications for residents to serve on a committee to determine if a town manager would be feasible.