Lunenburg officer's firing still a mystery
Posted in the Fitchburg Forum
#1 Jul 6, 2013
Lunenburg officer's firing still a mystery
By Katina Caraganis, kcaraganis@sentinelandenterpri se.com
Posted: 06/23/2013 06:38:16 AM EDT
LUNENBURG -- Two months after police Sgt. Jason Poitras was fired by Town Manager Kerry Speidel, she and other officials remain tightlipped about why, and one selectmen said residents should not be quick to rush to judgment about what happened.
Selectman Dave Matthews, who chaired the board when the termination was handed down, says there are a lot of false rumors circulating about the case and residents should not speculate on what may have happened.
"A lot of the information out there right now is incorrect," he said. "I guess to some extent I would be curious about this, but I don't think in the long haul it's going to be that big of a deal. This could take weeks or months. It's a very frustrating process."
Speidel said because Poitras -- former president of the town's police union -- has filed for arbitration, she cannot comment on the specifics of the case.
Matthews said it's unclear what Poitras is seeking from his arbitration claim, but he explained it would be reasonable to assume he wants to be reinstated to the force and wants to collect back wages.
Speidel said she has been in constant communication with the town's labor counsel, who has advised her not to release any more information on the matter.
"He has filed for arbitration and that will take about six months or so to go through," Speidel said Friday, noting that arbitration is similar to a lawsuit and until an outcome is reached, details of what happens cannot be released.
"I have a duty to the town of Lunenburg, and we are involved in an arbitration matter and I will not jeopardize the town or the town's position."
Speidel would neither say what prompted the termination, nor whether it was because of something that occurred on the job or off duty.
A former Leominster police officer is also asking to be reinstated after he was fired by his chief for using a racial slur at a baseball game. Both the Leominster police chief and the mayor have been vocal about the reasons for the firing.
Speidel said she is aware of the situation in Leominster but did not know enough to compare the circumstances to the Lunenburg case.
In addition to his police duties, Poitras was teaching a criminal-justice class at the Devens campus of Mount Wachusett Community College.
Joyce Cormier, a spokeswoman for the college, said Poitras is no longer employed by the college, but did not provide details, including how long he worked there, when he stopped working and the reasons for his not being there anymore.
Some residents argue that it's the public's right to know the circumstances surrounding Poitras' dismissal, while others say it's been handled appropriately.
Local businessman Bob Elder says it's a sticky situation for the town.
#2 Jul 6, 2013
"It's a slippery slope. I definitely think it is important. We do pay his salary, but it's a personnel matter. If he's not stealing from the town, that's one thing, but if he did something wrong while on the job, that's a different story," Elder said. "I'm certainly not bothered that they won't tell anyone. It's out of respect for the officer. If he can't perform his job because of something, it doesn't necessarily have to be made public."
Poitras is one of the targets of a lawsuit by Richard Dean, a Massachusetts man who alleged Poitras falsified documents to cover up alleged misconduct by Poitras' friend.
Speidel and Police Chief Jim Marino say Poitras' dismissal has nothing to do with Dean's lawsuit.
"Nobody seems to know a thing and it seems like a lot of people are turning a blind eye," local businessman Baron Bowser said. "My understanding was that Kerry and Marino took care of the discipline by having him removed but nobody is talking. Usually you'll hear something here or there but we haven't heard a thing."
He said Speidel often holds the reins tight and not a lot of information is released when it comes to issues like this.
"That might be good for some people, but I've grown weary of (some town officials) as a collective group," Bowser said.
Bowser said he does believe taxpaying residents have some right to know but he qualified that by saying "there's always that fine line, and people don't want to cross it. The way I see it, it has some indiscretion written all over it."
Dave Rodgers, a former selectman, said he has no qualms about not being informed of the reasons for the dismissal.
"I trust the town manager and the Board of Selectmen and the chief of police in their duties," he said. "I don't care to know anything. They operated and they did what they had to do."
Numerous attempts to reach Poitras by telephone were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the door at his home said he was at work.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_...
#3 Jul 7, 2013
Is this Leominster? Now it makes sense. Oh, it is all coming together.
#5 Jul 7, 2013
Just like the two cops in Gardner??
#6 Jul 7, 2013
Not quite. One of the Brothers Lynch was not rehabilitated during his service to the state and went on to get arrested for assault and then proceeded to have his license revoked for road rage. So, no.
#7 Jul 7, 2013
No I mean the two cops that got to resign because they broke the law got caught. No jail time for them. Big cover up in Gardner from the Mayor down to the GPD, (Lt Wrigley and Sgt Bebo)
#8 Jul 7, 2013
You got caught too!
#9 Jul 7, 2013
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