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RAYNHAM - Many of those involved in firing Raynham's only female police sergeant - nearly one year after she filed a discrimination suit against the town - have little to say publicly about the decision.


The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday to terminate Sgt. Sally Westcoat's employment with the Raynham Police Department for what they claim was compromising an undercover drug investigation and disclosing sexual assault reports to unauthorized people. Westcoat was also accused of botching an investigation into an alcohol-related car accident in March.



Westcoat, who has an unlisted phone number, did not respond to messages the Daily Gazette left with relatives and her attorney, Jack Canzoneri, did not return calls for comment yesterday afternoon.


"Sally just doesn't want to talk," said her father David Westcoat, a former Taunton police chief.


During a closed-door hearing Tuesday night, at which Westcoat and her attorney were present, selectmen examined the charges brought against the police sergeant and voted to demote her to the rank of officer and fire her from the force.


Last August, Westcoat filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in Bristol County Superior Court against the town, Police Chief Peter King and Deputy Chief Louis Pacheco.


The suit claims that Pacheco made gender-related comments to Westcoat, such as inquiring whether it was "that time of the month" and other demeaning remarks in regard to her sex. The suit also claims Pacheco called her derogatory names like "Sergeant zero" and that Pacheco and King subjected her performance to a stricter level of scrutiny because she is a woman.


Westcoat is seeking undisclosed damages from the defendants.


Pacheco refused to discuss whether Westcoat's firing was related to the lawsuit.


He further declined to comment about the charges brought against Westcoat or the selectmen's decision to fire her, saying it was against protocol to discuss an ongoing incident.


"It's going to go to the Civil Service Commission," Pacheco said. "She will appeal it."


Westcoat has nine more days to appeal her firing. As of yesterday afternoon, the Civil Service Commission had yet to receive an appeal.


Attorney David Jenkins, who is representing the town in Westcoat's lawsuit, declined to comment on the police sergeant's firing. He said he was not involved in that process.


Chief King did not return phone messages last night.


Selectmen voted Tuesday to demote Westcoat for her handling of the investigation of an alcohol-related car crash on March 5. The board decided that she was negligent and incompetent in the investigation.


"Since the department has spent so much time and effort at training and re-training you in the requirements of being a supervisor, it is clear that you are not able to perform the duties expected of a sergeant in the Raynham Police Department," the selectmen said in a letter to Westcoat detailing the charges.


For compromising an on-going undercover drug investigation by disclosing confidential police information and an informant's name to the target of the investigation, selectmen voted to demote Westcoat to officer and to terminate her employment with the Raynham Police Department.


For removing sexual assault reports from the police station, the board also voted to demote Westcoat to officer and fire her from the force.


"The fact that you were specially trained in this area is most troubling," selectmen said in their written decision to end the sergeant's employment. "Clearly you knew what you were doing was improper and illegal."


Selectmen said Tuesday they would not comment on the situation beyond the charges and reasons for firing Westcoat detailed in the letter.


Westcoat, whose father is former Taunton police chief David Westcoat, was Raynham's first female police sergeant. She was promoted to the rank in 1997.


David Westcoat commented that the timing of the firing was "interesting," but refused to say more, preferring to relay interview requests to his daughter.


The 2004 annual town report lists her as one of two permanent female officers on the police force of 23. Officer Michelle Mills is the other.


Kerri Melo, a full-time temporary police officer, said her experience in the Raynham department has been vastly different from what Westcoat claims in her lawsuit.


"I never experienced any of that," Melo said when asked about sexual discrimination on the force.


During her time as a temporary officer Melo said she never worked directly with Sgt. Westcoat and does not know her personally.
 
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