Attorney: Detailed waiver request could get Hinsdale chief reinstated
HINSDALE -- Suspended Police Chief Nancy Daniels could be reinstated if the town submits to the state a more-detailed request for a training waiver, according to her attorney.
In a presentation to the Hinsdale Select Board on Wednesday, attorney Mark T. Brennan said that Daniels and Selectman Bruce Marshall attended the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee’s meeting last month to make the case for Daniels’ waiver.
What they found, Brennan said, is that the committee rejected the initial request submitted by the Select Board in November because it was insufficient in detail.
"My request would be another letter requesting a [270-day] waiver," Brennan said. "This would just contain a little bit more information [about the medical reasons for] the delay."
Daniels, a former part-time officer who was appointed chief last January, was placed on paid administrative leave in November because she has not completed the six-month Municipal Police Training Academy course that is mandated for full-time officers in the state. She failed her first attempt and was unable to retake the course last summer due to an ankle injury and other medical issues.
Responding to repeated requests by Daniels and her supporters, Hinsdale Select Board Chairwoman Bonnie Conner submitted a letter in November requesting a waiver for Daniels.
When that request was rejected, Conner and Select Board member William Goddard Jr. put Daniels on leave, saying the town faced liabilities by keeping Daniels on because her police powers had expired absent the training.
But the attorney said Conner composed the letter alone and, despite his requests, neither he nor Marshall nor Goddard reviewed its contents prior to it being sent.
Brennan, citing the MPTC’s November minutes, said Conner’s letter contained no mention of Daniels’ medical issues last summer. The committee ultimately rejected the request after concluding that she had missed two additional opportunities to take the test.
If Conner’s letter had been more thorough, Brennan said, the vote would have gone differently.
During the December meeting, Brennan said, "the [committee] basically stated that the letter -- that was sent without my review -- was inadequete to explain why Chief Daniels was requesting it."
The Eagle has requested a copy of Conner’s letter from the MPTC.
In the meantime, Brennan said, the town needs an active police chief to approve firearms licenses, register sex offenders and testify in court cases.
"[Daniels] has not been able to testify in various court cases due to orders of the Select Board," he said. "Those court cases have allowed a couple of second-offense drunk drivers to walk free. Speaking as a defense lawyer, that’s a dream. But I don’t think it’s good news for the town."
Residents who possess a license to carry require Daniels’ check-off this year or they’ll need go through firearms safety training again, Brennan and Marshall pointed out.
Goddard and Conner opposed a motion from Marshall to draft new letter to the MPTC, each wanting to see the minutes from the MPTC’s December meeting before making a decision.
Conner also wanted town counsel’s opinion on discussing Daniels’ medical issues in a letter to the MPTC.
"I will contact legal [Thursday] and ask their opinion," Conner said. "I want to talk to legal first."
Brennan told the Select Board he’d be available on Friday to help draft the letter.
Marshall said the MPTC also suggested, as many others have, that there is a simple way to circumvent the state requirement.
"I would say the easiest way to put this whole thing to bed is let her work 32 hours per week," Marshall said.
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