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Fired WSPD Captain Speaks Out At City Council

Captain O'Brien

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — A fired police captain publicly spoke out Monday night at the West Springfield City Council. Daniel  O’Brien was fired last week for taping a woman’s mouth shut in 2011. He declined a settlement offer from the town and tonight in a presentation to the town he says the investigation that led to his firing was flawed.

Before a packed audience, O’Brien demonstrated that restraint chairs are only valuable if spit shields are used to protect officers from out of control prisoners. He says the night he taped this woman’s mouth shut and to this day, West Springfield doesn’t have any.

“This is what happens in police departments and correctional facilities,” Dan O’Brien said. “These are the  things we deal with, we simply need the equipment and the training.”

O’Brien also called witnesses, three retired police supervisors, whom he claims he wasn’t allowed to use during the department’s investigation.
Among the issues cited: the investigator of town’s internal report, a former Tewksbury chief, has an alleged questionable history in investigating other departments, and that the town provided him either a backdated or inaccurate copy of department rules. Former West Springfield Police Captain Dan Murray said the town was wrong in never providing an impartial hearing.

“There was no hearing with the public safety commission, and the mayor certainly wasn’t impartial and Dan O’Brien was denied due process,” Murray said.

Outside, though, a group of  women held signs, saying they still feel what O’Brien did was wrong.

“He should have been in control, not out of control,” resident Janice Daly said. “Especially someone like this, whose supposed to be a leader in our community. This is unacceptable and I hope to god they do not give him his appeal and give him his job back.”

O’Brien says he’s confident after his appeal process, his firing will be reversed. When asked if he regretted that 2011 night, he said:

“I would simply say just like Captain Murray said, you have to make decisions,” O’Brien said. “You do the best you can do with the situation and I made decisions in best interest of everybody.”

The investigation also revealed that O’Brien was not honest in his application about his military history. The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office says even though it was over 25 years ago, the level of untruthfulness could cause complications in court.  The captain who hired O’Brien said they knew that he was given a military discharge for hospitalization and that if it wasn’t an issue then, it shouldn’t be now.

It’s expected O’Brien’s appeal should take several months.

Mayor Gregory Neffinger released a statement saying “Once Captain O’Brien turned down our settlement offer, I was left with no other options. The citizens of West Springfield deserve better from their police officers.”
O’Brien also noted that an automated phone call recorded by his wife and sent out to residents in town Sunday was paid for by himself so townspeople would here his side of the story.

He said with election day Tuesday, he is remaining apolitical and had no control over when the topic of his firing and future came into public light.

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