Updated at 5 p.m. to report the dispatcher in question is the same person involved in the use of a racial slur at the police department in 2014.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A Williamstown Police Department part-time dispatcher who shared racist posts on social media no longer is employed by the town, the town manager announced on Thursday.
Town Manager Jason Hoch late Thursday afternoon confirmed it was the same dispatcher who is accused in a federal lawsuit of using a racial slur in the department.
The employee tendered his resignation following an investigation by Police Chief Kyle Johnson, according to a statement from Town Manager Jason Hoch.
"Chief Johnson determined that there were posts that were inconsistent with the department’s rules for professional conduct and responsibilities and conduct unbecoming an officer, " Hoch wrote in a three-paragraph statement.
By rules of the WPD, the term "officer" applies to both sworn officers and dispatchers, Hoch explained.
The Facebook posts came to the attention of Johnson and Hoch on Saturday, Nov. 7. And they discussed them at Monday’s Select Board meeting.
"[Thursday] morning, the Chief advised the employee that he was submitting his report to me with a recommendation that the employee be removed from service as a Dispatcher with immediate effect," Hoch wrote. "The employee subsequently acknowledged the behavior and offered his resignation which I accepted."
On Monday, Johnson described the Facebook posts as "inappropriate." Hoch said they appeared to "reflect a racial bias."
As he did on Monday, Hoch in his Thursday statement noted that the posts in question did not appear to present a direct threat to any individual Williamstown residents.
But they still were of a nature that the town and WPD were not prepared to tolerate.
"While none of the posts identified appear to have represented an intentional threat to our community, they were inconsistent with the values we wish to demonstrate in Town government today," Hoch said. "Our employees have been reminded of the expectations for our conduct extend not only within the workplace, but also in our lives in the community both physically and virtually."
In August, a lawsuit was filed against the town, Hoch an Johnson by Sgt. Scott McGowan, who is seeking unspecified damages for discrimination and retaliation for his activities as a whistleblower.
McGowan's lawsuit lists a litany of allegations of racist actions and sexual misconduct tied to the department, claiming that he repeatedly "blew the whistle" on said offenses. One incident that has been the focus of much criticism in the weeks following the filing occurred in 2014.
That year, when the police were still at their old station in Town Hall on North Street, a Black student from Williams College was receiving a tour of the station when, "Dispatcher D, who is white, entered the station for his shift and shouted a racial slur (the N-word) to other Department members," according to the suit.
The same incident was referenced in McGowan's complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which preceded the lawsuit.
In the Williamstown's response to McGowan's MCAD complaint, the town acknowledged the incident occurred but denied McGowan was a whistleblower in that or other instances.
"When the  incident was brought to Chief Johnson's attention, the dispatcher who made the offensive remark was appropriately disciplined," the town's response reads. "The Respondents have no recollection of the Complainant recommending that the dispatcher be terminated, or that the Complainant had any involvement in any discussions about how the incident should be handled other than reporting it to Chief Johnson."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Lever Seeks Applicants for Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Entrepreneurs have about two weeks to apply for a grant program that looks to support sustainable, woodland-related businesses.
Lever Inc. in North Adams is hosting the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge, which offers a prize of $25,000 to the winner and guidance in developing a business plan to all who apply.
It is the latest in a series of challenges organized by Lever, which has helped launch 46 new companies in the Berkshire regions since its inception in 2014.
This time around, Lever is partnering with the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, a collaboration of 16 municipalities in Franklin and Berkshire County's Mohawk Trail (Route 2) corridor whose core mission includes "natural resource-based economic development."
Thompson, Pratt and Mount Greylock Regional School Principal Jacob Schutz each told the committee that the school year is going well and that students and staff have adjusted to the hybrid instruction model brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
click for more
McCandless' first awardee in this Northern Berkshire community was Mount Greylock senior Jacqueline Wells, who was formally recognized with the award at Monday's School Committee meeting.
click for more
The city of Pittsfield is working to refine snow emergency parking in two steps. The first step is the adoption of a new snow emergency regulations for alternate side parking, and the second is to repeal overnight parking regulations so that residents can park on the street all year long. click for more
On Monday, Athletic Director Lindsey von Holtz proposed a plan to the School Committee for four competitive varsity teams in the upcoming season: boys and girls basketball and boys and girls cross country skiing.
click for more