WILLIAMSTOWN — A town police dispatcher has resigned in connection with inappropriate posts on social media that displayed racial bias.
The posts, which were on the personal Facebook page of the part-time employee, were reported to Police Chief Kyle Johnson and Town Manager Jason Hoch in a letter that was received Nov. 7.
Johnson launched an investigation and placed the employee on administrative leave. As a result of the investigation, Johnson confirmed that the posts were inconsistent with the department’s rules for professional conduct, and responsibilities and conduct unbecoming an officer. In department regulations, the term “officer” refers to sworn officers as well as dispatchers.
On Thursday morning, Johnson advised the employee that he was submitting his report to Hoch with a recommendation that the employee be removed from service as a dispatcher immediately.
“The employee subsequently acknowledged the behavior and offered his resignation which I accepted,” Hoch wrote in a town statement. “He is no longer employed by the town of Williamstown.”
Williamstown has been struggling with issues of race and policing as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, and allegations of past racial and sexual harassment at the Police Department.
The allegations came out as part of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in August by Williamstown Police Sgt. Scott McGowan. The suit maintains that McGowan was retaliated against for decrying racial and sexual harassment in the department by the police chief.
The harassment charges refer to incidents more than a decade ago in which McGowan charges that Johnson, on occasion, rubbed his groin on the arms or hands of employees, that he made jokes at the expense of a Black officer, and that a dispatcher used a racist epithet in the presence of that officer, who was giving a tour of the station to a Black college student.
Shortly thereafter, a Brady list was released by Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington. The list provides the names of police officers who should not be considered credible courtroom witnesses in criminal trials because of documented wrongdoing or misconduct, and it included Williamstown Police Officer Craig Eichhammer.
In a complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, McGowan said Eichhammer had been disciplined, but not terminated, for sexual aggression toward a female resident of the town in 2011.
The town statement reiterated that town employees have been notified of their expectations.
“While none of the posts identified appear to have represented an intentional threat to our community, they were inconsistent with the values we wish to demonstrate in town government today,” Hoch wrote. “Our employees have been reminded of the expectations for our conduct extend not only within the workplace, but also in our lives in the community both physically and virtually.”