Editor’s note: This article contains images and descriptions of anti-Black racist and violent language and imagery. A dispatcher with the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) resigned on Thursday after he acknowledged making a series of anti-Black racist Facebook posts over the summer.
At a Williamstown Select Board meeting on Oct. 26, Town Manager Jason Hoch ’95 announced his decision to retain Kyle Johnson as the chief of the Williamstown Police Department (WPD). The announcement comes as Johnson faces allegations of sexual assault and racial harassment in a federal lawsuit filed in August, and as local police accountability organizers have called for his removal.
Following this announcement, in a Monday Select Board meeting, Johnson apologized for “some poor judgement” early in his tenure, and “tolerating and participating in behaviors that should never have occurred in the workplace.” He also said that an investigation had been initiated into new reports that a WPD officer shared racist posts on Facebook.
In October, two more students at the College tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive tests among students to five. Upon receiving their positive test results, the students were told they had to move to isolation housing, and their respective podmates, who were informed about an hour afterward, were given less than an hour to pack and move to Dodd for a two-week quarantine. The ensuing series of events, based on interviews with four students who were placed in quarantine across the two incidents, revealed a significant lack of communication on the part of the College.
The Record interviewed 10 students about the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, asking if they voted, whom they voted for, how they voted and why they voted the way they did.
The students, voting from various parts of the nation and the world, discussed what is at stake for them in one of the most contentious and divisive elections in American history.
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office put Williamstown Police Department (WPD) officer Craig Eichhammer on a list of police officers flagged by the office for having engaged in or having been accused of misconduct that would undermine their credibility as witnesses in court. The list was publicly released on Monday.
Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson told WBUR that Eichhammer is still employed by the WPD.
Large gatherings of students violated the public health guidelines. The College’s response has been spotty.
If you walk past Frosh Quad at 11 p.m. on a Friday, you’ll hear pounding music and see groups of first-years wandering between buildings. It almost seems like a regular Friday night — not one in the middle of a pandemic. In the weeks since students returned to campus there have been a number of instances in which students violated the College’s public health guidelines — which limit gatherings to groups of 10 — sometimes with gatherings of dozens of students. The College’s responses to different instances and types of violations have varied widely.
While the Town acknowledged that McGowan’s lawsuit “raises genuine questions or doubts about the Town’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial equity,” their response –– the second public statement made by the five-person board on the lawsuit –– disputes several of McGowan’s characterizations of incidents. Additionally, it denies allegations that Johnson committed sexual assault or racial harassment, and claims that McGowan did not experience retaliation for reporting and opposing alleged incidents of sexual assault and racial harassment.
Renewed criticism of College’s 2018 funding of new police station, concerns over WPD presence on campus
Lawsuit brought by WPD sergeant alleges sexual assault, racial harassment by Williamstown Police Chief and unnamed officers
A sergeant at the Williamstown Police Department (WPD), Scott McGowan, filed a federal lawsuit today against the Department, WPD Chief Kyle Johnson, Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch and the Town of Williamstown for what McGowan described as retaliation against McGowan for reporting instances of racial harassment and sexual assault allegedly committed by both unnamed WPD officers and Johnson.
WPD use of force policy falls behind advocates’ benchmarks, six reported uses of force in past two years
A Record review of the Williamstown Police Department’s use of force practices revealed six officially reported uses of force in the past two years and an official use of force policy that does not meet several of the benchmarks set by anti-police violence advocates. The policy is currently being revised through an internal review, according to Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson.