Hinsdale selectmen vote to fire Police Chief Nancy Daniels

New Hinsdale Police Chief Nancy Daniels poses for a portrait with Hinsdale Police Offcier Travis Derby. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 (STAFFORD)

HINSDALE -- The Hinsdale Select Board fired Nancy Daniels, Hinsdale Police Chief, in an executive meeting Monday.

Select Board Chairwoman Bonnie Conner and Selectman William Goddard Jr. maintain Daniels was hired without qualification by the preceding board in January 2013.

A 2010 committee, following a town vote to restructure Hinsdale Police Department, recommended that candidates for the chief position have two years managerial experience, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a diploma from the Massachusetts Police Training Committee school for full-time officers, none of which Daniels has, according the two officials.

Daniels, on the other hand, said the same officials targeted her unfairly since they were elected in May 2013.

"I'm the only department head that was constantly scrutinized [since the new Hinsdale Select Board took over in May]," Daniels said Wednesday. "My lawyer [attorney Mark T. Brennan of Pittsfield] is going ahead with a lawsuit."

A series of medical problems, including a broken ankle in July, prevented Daniels from attending the MPTC training during the latter half of 2013, the former chief said.

The board, Daniels further alleged, was half-hearted in its attempts to acquire a 270-day waiver from the MPTC that would have allowed her to keep her role in the department until she could attend the training in 2014.

Conner says this isn't so. Last week, the chairwoman said, the board scheduled Daniels a medical examination and Physical Assessment Test on Wednesday and Friday. Daniels needed to pass both prior to going to the MPTC training. Conner said Daniels attended neither.

"What she's wanted is another 270-day waiver," Conner said Wednesday. "What [Goddard and I] told her was, ‘No, you go and pass the PAT and then we'll go and get your waiver so you can go to school.'"

Defending herself, Daniels said Hinsdale Town Counsel Brian Mazer notified Brennan, not her, of the medical examination, and did so via email on the morning of Jan. 22, 54 minutes before it was to happen, at 9:06 a.m.

Daniels said the PAT was rescheduled from its original date to Jan. 24, and on that day she was "sick and at the doctor's office."

Setting the above aside, Conner and Goddard said they have the backing of the MPTC.

The MPTC Executive Board denied to grant Daniels another a 270-day waiver in November because "there were 10 academies [Daniels could have attended between February and November]," "Nancy Daniels did not apply to any of them" and "Nancy Daniels has not applied for the January 2014 Boylston Academy," read the board's executive minutes.

Hinsdale Selectman Bruce Marshall, who Daniels deems "the only one who's had my back," appealed the decision at the MPTC Executive Board meeting in Randolph in December, but this too was denied.

In the meantime, Conner and Goddard voted to place Daniels on paid leave and then hired Charles Bassett, a former Pittsfield Police officer, temporary police chief at a meeting earlier this month.

At the regular Hinsdale Select Board meeting Wednesday, Marshall said Bassett's salary was not revealed during the meeting where Conner and Goddard hired him. Marshall placed it at $25 per hour and had a discussion of the item attached to a future meeting agenda.

Closing an interview with The Eagle on Wednesday, Daniels said she and Brennan are "far from done fighting," and that she and the town share the attorney's legal expenses, which presently stand at $18,000, according to the former chief.

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