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Brimfield settles police complaint
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
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BRIMFIELD - Town officials have negotiated a nearly $30,000 settlement with police officers who were not reappointed in July 2003 after planning to affiliate with the Teamsters union.

Eight part-time officers, seven auxiliary officers, one sergeant and one lieutenant were not reappointed to one-year contracts by the Board of Selectmen. One auxiliary officer was retained. There are no full-time positions in the Brimfield Police Department, including that of the chief.

Selectmen said at that time that they wanted to allow a new chief to pick his own staff.

But the police officers believed the move was a union-busting effort and filed a complaint with the state Labor Relations Board.

The settlement agreement, negotiated with the Labor Relations Board and approved by a Superior Court judge Feb. 15, includes no admission of wrongdoing by the town and does not require it to rehire any of the officers.

It affects all of the police who lost their jobs except the lieutenant, who said he supported the union effort but did not plan to join. Officers had created the Brimfield Police Association and planned to affiliate with the Teamsters union.

Charles H. Laperle, president of the association, who is now a full-time officer in West Brookfield, said the funds will be shared among the complainants, with those who were not rehired receiving more money.

Just over a year ago, selectmen rehired officers Todd Canedy, Shannon Bingle, Joel Norton, Timothy Grant and Daniel McCarthy. McCarthy and Grant have since left the department. Norton, who was a sergeant, was rehired as a patrolman.

Laperle said the former town officers are happy that the matter is settled.

Diane M. Panaccione, who chairs the Brimfield selectmen, said that an article seeking payment of the $29,937 settlement would be placed on the May annual Town Meeting warrant. She declined further comment on advice of the town's attorney.

It was unclear yesterday what would happen if Town Meeting members voted against the warrant item. The town may be facing more action. The former lieutenant, Earl J. Dessert, said he may hire a lawyer.

"Now that the town has reached a settlement with the union, I will be getting a lawyer because I believe I was unlawfully terminated," Dessert, now a Vermont state trooper, said. "If they reached an agreement with the union, I would hope they would reach a settlement with me."
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