Great Barrington officer suspended in wake of OUI probe
GREAT BARRINGTON >> Officer Daniel Bartini, who was suspected of drunken driving during a traffic stop last month, has been placed on unpaid leave, The Eagle has learned.
His suspension was revealed in the wake of a four-week investigation into his case. Police Chief William Walsh confirmed the suspension in an email Friday, though he declined to say how long Bartini would be off the job.
"We take allegations of off-duty behavior very seriously," said Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. "Including operating under the influence."
Bartini was pulled over by Sheffield officer Brennan Polidoro early in the morning of Aug. 20 after he was observed driving erratically. Polidoro noticed a "strong odor" of alcohol in the car and that Bartini appeared to have bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.
Bartini admitted having a "few drinks" at a private residence in Ashley Falls earlier in the night. Polidoro wrote in his report that he believed Bartini was impaired to some degree, but did not perform a field sobriety test. He allowed Bartini to call for a ride home.
The Great Barrington Police Department and Town Hall launched a joint investigation that concluded Thursday.
Tabakin wouldn't comment on the details of the investigation, saying that specialty law firm Deutsch Williams — which the town hired to deal with a "personnel issue in the police department" — had told her not to comment beyond her statement provided to The Eagle.
In that statement, Tabakin said the town understands that driving under the influence is a very serious crime.
Tabakin and Walsh said the town would require the entire department to undergo a two-hour alcohol safety class. She said the town and police department also would review internal police department policies.
"It's clear people in Great Barrington won't tolerate any of this kind of behavior," Tabakin said.
Walsh sounded a similar note, telling The Eagle that regulations were being updated and would be available to the public soon.
Walsh was insistent that it is not the policy of the Great Barrington Police Department to allow erratic drivers who may be under the influence to seek rides home.
"GBPD policy on OUI enforcement does not allow for any special treatment for intoxicated drivers," he said. " Everyone is treated the same across the board."
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