Williamstown Police Department

A employee complaint against Sgt. Scott E. McGowan led Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch on Monday to direct that McGowan be placed on a paid administrative leave, pending an inquiry. McGowan's attorney, David A. Russcol, said the sergeant has not been informed about the nature of the complaint.

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Select Board set a plan to find as permanent police chief during Monday’s regular Zoom meeting.

Based on one of two options offered by member Andy Hogeland, Town Manager Jason Hoch will move forward to identify an interim chief in an abbreviated search.

At the same time, the town will pursue an investigation into allegations raised about sexual and racial harassment within the town Police Department and with a study of what a social work arm of the department could achieve.

Additional efforts will use community input to deduce what the department should look like and what the community wants to see in a permanent police chief.

Once those tasks are completed, a professional search firm would be engaged for the four- or five-month process of finding a permanent chief.

Kerri Nichol, part of an advisory group studying the need for social work professionals in the department, said a professional researcher has been engaged and will start a “full-scale research project” Feb. 15.

Hoch said he will assemble an advisory group to express views on what is needed in an interim chief. He added that anyone interested in serving on such a group should contact him at jhoch@williamstownma.gov.

The town is looking for a replacement for former Chief Kyle Johnson, who stepped down in December. Kyle had been accused of sexual harassment and racial bias in a federal lawsuit by Sgt. Scott McGowan of the same department. McGowan withdrew his suit after Johnson's departure. 

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.

Scott Stafford has been a reporter, photographer, and editor at a variety of publications, including the Dallas Morning News and The Berkshire Eagle. Scott can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com, or at 413-496-6301 and on Twitter at @BE_SStafford.