In the small western Massachusetts town of Hinsdale, the Select Board Wednesday shot down the bid by ousted Police Chief Nancy Daniels’ to be hired as a part-time officer. Following the decision, the Select Board voted to adjourn the meeting after 15 minutes, as the crowd angrily voiced their disapproval.
Earlier this year, the Select Board fired Daniels and hired former Pittsfield police officer Charles Bassett to serve as temporary chief. Daniels says she submitted an application to be a part-time officer on March 26. Selectman Bruce Marshall’s motion Wednesday night to hire Daniels was voted down by Chair Bonnie Conner and Selectman Bill Goddard. Here’s Goddard.
“Right now I have never seen an application,” Goddard said. “There’s a letter in file here from Chief Bassett stating that he does not wish to hire any officers until a permanent chief has been put in place. He didn’t think it was fair. It was dated March 31. That’s what I’m basing my decision on.”
Daniels was appointed chief in January 2013 before Conner and Goddard were elected to three-year terms in May. Marshall, a Selectman for 36 years, feels Daniels should be re-hired.
“She’s done a fine job for the town of Hinsdale and I believe she got railroaded out of this town,” Marshall said. “She got railroaded. Plain and simple.”
Conner and Goddard say another applicant, a former officer in the town, was told two weeks ago there were no openings and that he would have to reapply. Following the vote to deny Daniels’ bid, a person in the crowd spoke up.
“Can I ask why?” asked the resident.
“No,” Conner responded with a gavel pound.
“Why not?” asked the resident.
“That’s the one warning and it will be out the door,” responded Conner.
The persistent comments from the crowd of roughly 30 did not stop there.
“It’s such a power struggle with you!” one person yelled at Conner.
“I am not going to put up with the constant interruptions,” Conner said.
“Then stop acting like a moron!” the person responded.
“My God, you won’t let nobody talk,” another person chimed in.
The meeting was adjourned just fifteen minutes in. Conner says they called it because members of the public continued to talk without being addressed by the Board.
“I have a police officer who would not do his duty and take the people out of the room and because they would not respect that you are trying to do business,” explained Conner after the meeting.
Officer Rodney Maloney was on duty for the meeting. He says the two women Conner initially requested to have removed from the room were not creating enough of a disturbance for police action. However once comments from others escalated, Maloney advised Conner to adjourn the meeting.
“My duty is to the town, not to individuals,” said Maloney.
After the meeting ended, two Massachusetts State Police officers responded to a resident’s call of a disturbance at the town hall. Goddard says it’s unfortunate the meetings have happened this way.
“When they become disruptive nothing gets done,” Goddard said. “They just get out of control where you just can’t conduct any business.”
In February, town voters approved a measure allowing the recall of elected officials. Resident Deb Pratt explains why people have continuously filled the weekly meetings since Daniels was placed on leave in November after failing to complete the state academy training required to serve as a full-time officer in the commonwealth.
“We’re coming because we can’t believe what’s going on in our town,” Pratt said. “I mean we have to see it with our own eyes.”
Conner says it’s a small minority in the town of roughly 2,000 that continues to make claims that she holds a personal vendetta against Daniels. She says many of the people who show up to the meetings come premeditated to incite issues over the town’s handling of Daniels’ employment.
“If half of them knew half of the reasoning, they wouldn’t be as blindly led as they are,” Conner said. “I can’t wait for the day to be able to lay the paperwork down on the table and let them read it.”
Daniels’ termination letter has not been released because the former chief is pursuing a discrimination suit against Conner and Goddard.