Williamstown gains residents

The Williamstown Select Board will invite Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington to explain the Brady list, which identifies officers in the county who might not be allowed to testify in court cases because they have been disciplined for certain violations of police policy. 

WILLIAMSTOWN — As a response to concerns expressed by residents at its previous meeting, the Select Board decided during Monday night’s meeting to invite Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington to talk about the Brady list, and what it means for officers on the list.

Townsfolk were upset to learn last year that a Williamstown Police officer is on the list, which identifies officers in the county who might not be allowed to testify in court cases because they have been disciplined for certain violations of police policy. Many have wondered why the officer still is employed there.

Monday’s meeting was the first in-person meeting the board has had since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

The discussion began with Andrew Hogeland noting that he would be setting an appointment to talk with Harrington about the Brady list. He suggested that board member Jeff Johnson accompany him. But, council member Wade Hasty said he had some questions as well, and he would like to attend. But, if three members of the board meet together, it is considered a quorum and would violate open meeting laws.

So, Hogeland ventured that they have two meetings with Harrington, with two different board members present at each one “to avoid the quorum issue.”

Council member Jane Patton suggested asking Harrington to come to Williamstown and talk with the entire Select Board, rather than having Harrington sit for two meetings.

“I think perhaps she would welcome the opportunity to meet with us and clear this up,” Patton said. “This feels extremely critical. Why should we schedule two meetings when we can do it with one?”

The board agreed, and said that if Harrington can’t free up the time, the board would ask for one meeting and send two board members there, as a backup plan.

Hogeland had noted in a previous meeting that the officer was disciplined for a policy violation regarding sexual assault about a decade ago, and that the town can’t go back and issue further punishment for a personnel issue that was resolved by action taken by the administration at the time.

In other business, Johnson noted that applicants still are sought for the DIRE committee, which is down to four members out of seven.

“Right now, we need applicants, we need some more help,” he said.

The DIRE committee examines issues of Diversity, Inclusion, and Racial Equity in town matters. It was established during the Black Lives Matter movement in July 2020.

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