Great Barrington officer gets probation in off-duty OUI

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A town police officer charged last spring with drunken driving while off duty will serve one year of probation.

Jonathan Finnerty, 37, of Lee, had his case continued without a finding June 19 in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Judge Paul Vrabel gave Finnerty probation until June 18, 2021, for the operating-under-the-influence charge.

State troopers arrested Finnerty on April 15 in Windsor, after they saw him driving erratically. A Breathalyzer test found that he had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream, and he told police he was suffering from emotional distress.

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After the arrest, Finnerty was suspended from the Great Barrington Police Department, where he works full time. He has not yet returned to work, according to Town Manager Mark Pruhenski.

The collective bargaining contract between the town and police officers stipulates disciplinary measures for police officers who are drinking or using drugs while on the job, not off duty.

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The agreement also says that officers who have drug or alcohol problems should ask for help, and will be given it.

"It is the hope of the Town that any employee who is experiencing problems with illegal drugs or alcohol will take advantage of this Article [in the contract] so that he or she can receive the proper treatment, counseling, and/or rehabilitation," the agreement says.

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Continuations without a finding are common outcomes for those charged with a first OUI offense, and will remain on one's criminal record, but without a conviction after it is dismissed. It is not a clean slate; a second OUI would be treated as a second offense, for instance.

Finnerty is the second Great Barrington officer arrested on suspicion of drunken driving since last year.

In April 2019, former Officer Daniel Bartini was arrested by state police on the Massachusetts Turnpike. He resigned a month later.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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