WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — After being on paid administrative leave for the last two years, and a deal regarding his employment fell through last week, West Springfield Capt. Daniel O’Brien has been fired from the force.
Mayor Gregory Neffinger made the announcement late Monday afternoon. He adds that a termination letter from him, along with a letter from Police Chief Ronald Campurciani, a copy of the investigative report, and a copy of the state statute were hand delivered to O’Brien Monday.
The termination takes effect immediately.
“We felt that we were trying to do the best deal for him and the City of West Springfield,” Neffinger said. “There were certain issues in the investigative report that really made it difficult for him to continue as a police officer in West Springfield.”
O’Brien had been on paid administrative leave since an incident in September 2011, during which a woman in police custody and in a restraint chair had her mouth taped shut while at the police station.
A hearing involving O’Brien, his attorney, and city officials was held on Friday, October 18, following which all parties acknowledged a deal had reached as to O’Brien’s employment status, and added that they were all satisfied with the outcome.
A final agreement was set to be signed by Friday, October 25.
So what went wrong? O’Brien says after careful review, it wasn’t fair.
“I was moving forward trying to see if it was going to be something that would be workable but in the end I found that it had too many flaws in it,” O’Brien said.
Including years of service. O’Brien says his retirement deal included extra time beyond his 25 years of full-time work and one year of auxiliary service.
“I knew that there was no other time yet when I would tell their lawyer and the administration that I didn’t have that time, I don’t have W-2s that can show it, they said ‘Ohh well we’re going to put in for it anyways and I said ‘Well I’m not going to sign anything like that’ so the deal was really a non-starter from the beginning because that was in there,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien was flagged for six incidents in an internal affairs investigation over his career, including the 2011 incident. He says each of them has a set of facts that counters what the report states, however, and that’s why he is going to appeal his firing.
“Of course I hope for the reverse but what I’m most grateful for or looking forward to, is just being able to counter what they’re saying the record is. It is not the record. It is one side. I have many issues and many things I can show to say the investigation was not done completely. There’s two sides to it.”
Neffinger says after two years, it’s important for the police department to move on. That appeal is expected to take at least several months.In the meantime, there are still questions about whether O’Brien will earn his pension.