On the second floor of Town Hall, Hopkinton’s Select Board assembled for their bi-weekly meeting on Tuesday, January 30.
The meeting typically attracts few residents, but tonight was a different story, as residents, frustrated by not being able to speak at Sergeant Tim Brennan’s Loudermill hearing on January 19 made their opinions known.
Finding a seat in the Select Board room was impossible, and by the time the meeting started, the room was full and Hopkinton residents overflowed into the hallway.
Today, HopNews was forwarded an email from an organization calling themselves Grassroots Advocacy Group for the Fair Treatment of Sgt. Tim Brennan that invited recipients to join them at Town Hall to speak at Public Forum. It was not immediately clear who was behind the message, which came from the address email@example.com.
Select Board Chair Muriel Kramer opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance before addressing the attendees. Also in attendance were Vice Chair Shahidul Mannan and board members Mary-Jo LaFreniere and Amy Ritterbusch. Irfan Nasrullah was absent, and town manager Norman Khumalo joined remotely.
Kramer began with an apology in the form of “an announcement on behalf of the board and the town,” specifically addressed to the “survivor at the center of this story.”
She said, “We, all of us on the board, those representing town government, our attorneys, and the police chief are deeply sorry for the inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information included in the documents that were not fully or appropriately redacted.”
After wrapping up the written apology, Kramer opened the floor to the Public Forum. Before Kramer could finish her instructions, the first resident approached for his permitted two minutes of speaking time.
Tim Boivin began the Public Forum with an emotional speech in support of Sgt. Brennan, but “more importantly, in support of the survivor in this case.”
Boivin said, in regards to the survivor’s information being released, “I let the board know how mortified the survivor’s mother was at this information being released.”
“The town continues to fail the survivor every single step of the way,” he added.
“Any victim of sexual assault is now going to be apprehensive about placing any trust in the Hopkinton Police Department – and rightly so,” said Boivin.
“The survivor shared with me how horribly she feels that this has caused such pain and suffering for the family of Sgt. Brennan,” he added.
Jon Spinale said he spoke to Brennan before the Select Board meeting and reported Brennan was unaware of the event but was “deeply touched.”
Spinale said he has worked in law enforcement for 27 years, both at the county and state level. He added that 15 years of his career were working in internal affairs.
“I’ve had the opportunity to professionally work hundreds of internal affairs investigations,” said Spinale.
“In reviewing the information from this case, it’s disturbing to say the least, that we’re all even sitting in this room. This incident should’ve been handled completely differently,” he added.
Spinale said, “I think there’s probably some people in this room who should lose their job. Tim Brennan is not one of them.”
Daniel Osuch said he watched the video stream of the Loudermill hearing from home, but is here now because he feels “more passionate after seeing how Tim is being treated.”
Osuch said if the Select Board votes to terminate Brennan, “I ask you immediately after that to hand in your resignations, especially with the disclosures that have happened over the past week.”
Resident Amy Thomas expressed her disappointment in the Board’s “revisionist history”. “You are saying this because you are trying to wash your hands of it. But no one has clean hands here. The Select Board is the appointing authority, and if you didn’t do your due diligence, that’s on you,” said Thomas.
Jim Scanlon, one of the final residents to speak during the Public Forum, said, “This town deserves better. I will let you know – I want to look you all in the eyes – that when you are asked to be recalled – and it will happen – you’ll know that it was the town that spoke up. We need better. We deserve better.”
Kramer attempted to close the Public Forum and called for a 5-minute recess following the first 20 speakers. But the meeting’s attendees appealed to Kramer to allow them to continue speaking, at which point Mannan offered a compromise and allowed time for four more speakers.
After an hour of speeches, the Public Forum concluded. More than 24 Hopkinton residents expressed their support of Tim Brennan and demanded that the Select Board reinstate him to the town’s police force.