The chair of the Select Board on Monday attempted to explain why the town is not at liberty to take the steps many residents have demanded in the wake of allegations raised in a lawsuit centering on the Williamstown Police Department.
The town cannot fire employees for events that were adjudicated years ago, Jane Patton said.
Those events and the lawsuit that revealed them were not on the agenda for the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee, but the allegations have been front of mind for residents since they came to light. And in the second hour of Monday's meeting, one of the attendees raised a point that frequently has been made over the last two months.
"What frustrates me is that there's so much talk about 'protecting police,' and I'm not trying to take away from the job they have or how difficult it is," Joshua Fredette told the committee. "It seems a little bit disingenuous to me that there's a focus on those who are there to protect, who walk around with firearms on their sides, when there has been such an abuse of power, systemically, through the police force. And not just here, right, across the country. And within our town management, in my opinion.
Those individuals are still in power. Are still walking around. Are still employed. And if you took any other job where somebody had been accused of racism or sexual harassment, I would bet my house right now they would not still be employed, or they would definitely be put on administrative leave. … It's confusing to me why these individuals are still being paid."
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