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Former officer seeks damages for dismissal

February 16, 2011
NORTHFIELD — Claiming his dismissal from the Northfield Police Department two months ago was unjust, former police officer Brian Brown has filed a Petition of Appeal seeking relief and damages from the Town of Northfield.

The appeal was filed through his attorney Shawn J. Sullivan at the Merrimack County Superior Court.

Speaking on behalf of his client Sullivan said he had little comment but confirmed he and his client have moved forward in filing the suit.

"Mr. Brown feels there has been an injustice and so we will take it to the next level now and present our case about the circumstances of his dismissal," Sullivan said.

Brown was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Oct. 17, 2010 after a series of incidents, which included damage to a cruiser he was purportedly not authorized to be driving. While using the newer police cruiser for his shift, Brown entered into a pursuit with a speeding vehicle through Northfield and Canterbury. That chase resulted in the cruiser becoming stranded in the woods on a Class VI road in Canterbury when he struck a large rock. Against policy the in-car camera had been shut off by Brown during the pursuit and circumstances leading up to the crash were not recorded. Brown has argued that the policy was never made clear to officers, and he wasn't aware of it.

Prior to that evening, Brown had been given a written warning for insubordination when he yelled and swore at a superior officer in front of fellow police officers. He also was cited for participating in an unauthorized ride-along with a minor in his vehicle while on duty.

During the hearing for Brown's dismissal last December Chief Steven Adams informed selectmen that Brown had also been placed on notice for driving a Northfield police vehicle to Concord Hospital while on duty in search of a female friend, leaving the town without an officer on the third shift.

"He later admitted to me he had done that not once but twice," Adams said.

Throughout the six-hour long hearing Brown maintained he had learned from his mistakes and was not the only person on the force to have committed some of the violations. He said he still enjoyed good relationships with his fellow officers and had continued on with his job in a professional manner.

"I took my punishment and we moved on," he said at his hearing.

Town Administrator Glenn Smith acknowledged the town had been served by the court and has forwarded that information on to the town's liability insurance company. He had no specifics on damages being sought but stated the previous hearing in December had incurred approximately $10,000 in attorney fees and pay for officers who were asked to testify. A date for the latest hearing has yet to be determined.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Town of Barnsted
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