Williamstown Residents Call For Investigation Of PD
Nearly 20 residents on Monday made pleas for the town to take action regarding allegations of sexual harassment and racism in the town's Police Department.
IBerkshires.com reports that the Select Board spent almost two hours listening to some of the 70 people who dialed in to participate in the remote meeting, with many of those speaking calling for Police Chief Kyle Johnson and Town Manager Jason Hoch to be placed on administrative leave and an independent investigation to be launched.
The filing caught the Select Board off-guard as they had not been privy to the MCAD filing or any complaints against the Police Department.
McGowan's allegations, some of which were not specifically disputed, included a dispatcher using the N-word when a Black college student was at the station, harassment of a Black officer (who later left), and sexual harassment of a local woman by another officer. The dispatcher and officer are still employed.
There was also a picture of Hitler in one of the police lockers, which the chief says he was not aware of until the complaint was filed.
Resident Arlene Kirsch said.
Because you can't possibly understand this, I'm gonna tell you how it feels to see a photo of a police officer's locker in my town with a picture of Hitler. The man who ordered the murder of my grandparents, I can't sleep. I have nightmares. This, like no other experience in my 71 years, has left me feeling beyond furious and beyond terrified and shockingly, that police officer still works here. I help pay his salary. Give me a break.
A number of the speakers on Monday expressed their own fears of how the local police would interact with them based on what they'd read in the complaint, and in light of ongoing protests after several high-profile deaths of Black individuals at the hands of police.
Dils and other members of the DIRE Committee accused the board of using the committee as a shield and expressed their disappointment that it was DIRE that had to call for action.