HomeNewsSelect Board Evaluates Options for Brennan Reinstatement

Select Board Evaluates Options for Brennan Reinstatement

Published on

20th Century Homes

On May 7, 2024, voters at Special Town Meeting (STM) considered an article to instruct the Select Board to reinstate Officer Timothy Brennan. The STM vote was 2:1 in favor of advising the Select Board (SB) to address the matter as soon as possible. In accordance with the will of the voters, the Select Board under the leadership of newly elected Chair Brian Herr received an update last night from attorney Donna Brewer of Harrington Heep, the town’s labor counsel.

Ms. Brewer, an expert in municipal law, provided an overview of the situation and the expected proceedings. She explained, “After the termination decision, the Labor Counsel and the Union Counsel discussed the grievance steps, as a grievance was filed shortly after the vote. According to the collective bargaining agreement, grievances have specific steps. The counsels agreed to skip the first three steps due to the nature of the issue and proceed directly to step four: arbitration. Currently, the Labor Counsel is awaiting a list of arbitrators from the Union Counsel so that both counsels can agree … and move forward with the arbitration.”

Chair Herr then opened the floor to questions from his colleagues. Board member Amy Ritterbusch was the first to speak, and she reiterated a point made by former board member, Irfan Nasrullah, at the Annual Town Meeting (ATM), stating, “There was a lot of incorrect information presented at the ATM. Just to clarify with counsel, am I correct that we cannot publicly discuss any negotiations, personnel, or disciplinary matters that were discussed in executive session because we are awaiting arbitration?” Attorney Brewer confirmed this was correct.

Board member Joe Clark asked, “If the Select Board wanted to get involved here, what’s possible, while something is in arbitration?”

Ms. Brewer clarified that “While arbitration is ongoing, the Select Board has several options.”

“The SB could vote to reinstate Sgt. Brennan, which would render the arbitration moot,” said Brewer. “Alternatively, the SB can continue negotiations with Sgt. Brennan through his counsel for a different resolution.”

Clark then asked how long the arbitration process would take from the selection of the arbitrator to the conclusion of arbitration. Ms. Brewer explained that she expected arbitration to be completed within a year.

Regarding potential outcomes, Ms. Brewer noted that the arbitration could result in various decisions. The arbitrator might completely affirm the Select Board’s decision, meaning Brennan would remain terminated. Alternatively, Brennan could be reinstated with damages and back pay, or reinstated with a penalty, such as a suspension.

Board member Shahidul Mannan had some clarifying questions concerning confidential discussions that took place in executive session. “Do you think there is more information that the town counsel can share with the residents and this board publicly? And if so, could you organize that for an upcoming session?”

Attorney Brewer responded, “That’s a loaded question. Nothing comes to mind immediately, but I can think about it more. Perhaps I can include some additional information from the investigations already released in a memorandum for the board and the public, as long as it doesn’t disclose any confidential information.”

Mannan wondered what the qualifications and role of the arbitrator was in this scenario. Brewer stated that the arbitrator will be someone experienced in reviewing decisions about police officers, including their discipline, suspension, or termination.

Mannan asked, “Do you see any risk of bringing it back to the Select Board before the arbitration is done? Any legal or financial risk for the town?”

Attorney Brewer responded that the town would likely face a lawsuit.

Herr asked if arbitration would be a private hearing or in a public session. Brewer clarified that the arbitration session is private and the board would not attend.

Herr followed up, “If the town intervenes before arbitration concludes, there’s a risk. What happens if we intervene after arbitration is complete? Is there the same level of risk?”

Brewer explained that the board can take unilateral action at any time if it’s to reinstate Brennan. For other actions, like reinstatement with suspension or another agreement, cooperation from Sergeant Brennan and his attorney will be required to avoid a lawsuit.

Turning to his colleagues, Herr asked if there were any other questions.

Amy Ritterbusch inquired, “Regarding the POST Commission, they sent a letter in the Loudermill hearing packet about a preliminary investigation against Sergeant Brennan. He’s still listed as not certified on their website. Can we have a police officer who is not certified?”

Donna Brewer answered, “No. If he is not certified by POST to serve as a police officer, we cannot hire him as a police officer.”

What is POST Certification for Police Officers?

The Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission was established as part of the criminal justice reform legislation in Chapter 253 of the Acts of 2020. According to the POST website, the mission is to improve policing and enhance public confidence in law enforcement by implementing a fair process for mandatory certification, discipline, and training for all peace officers in the Commonwealth.

All Massachusetts police officers must attend annual training for their respective departments. Keeping up with these annual training courses qualifies officers for POST certification.

When an officer is on leave, they cannot attend these training courses, which must be taken while on duty. POST provides a “Not Certified (Excused Leave)” status for officers on leave.

While Sgt. Brennan was on administrative leave, he could not complete his required training, which led to his current “Not Certified” status. Contrary to reports, Sergeant Brennan has not been decertified by the POST Commission.

Sunnyside Gardens
20th Century Homes

Latest articles

Catch up with a briefing of the most important and interesting stories from Hopkinton delivered to your inbox.

5 COMMENTS

  1. So when Ritterbusch referred to “an investigation” into Sgt. Brennan, is she simply saying he didn’t complete annual compliance training?

    • It is important to be civil and attempt to be respectful even if you disagree with a person’s actions and opinions. The above comment was awful whether you like Ritterbusch or not.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, POST has not taken a stance on the whole issue. He’s not certified because during the last year of administrative leave he was unable to remain current with his ongoing trainings and inservices.

  3. Whatever happened to the people wanting to bury Police Chief Joe Bennett? You got past the marathon and town meeting, and things just disappeared.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More like this