SHIRLEY, Mass. - A former Shirley police officer said her termination was the result of discrimination and many in the town are taking sides on the controversy.
One man who lives in Shirley says Officer Alfreda Cromwell dropped the ball when he reported a case of child endangerment.
Darren Senecal told FOX25 he gave Cromwell a tablet that might have included explicit photos of a child and the officer discarded the tablet in a desk drawer.
The police chief said that was the first in a series of infractions that resulted in her termination, but her attorney said she’s facing harsh punishment because of her race, gender and sexual orientation.
Dozens of people crowded the Shirley Police Department parking lot over the weekend to rally in support of Cromwell.
She’s a nine-year veteran of the department who was terminated by the Shirley Board of Selectman Wednesday.
“There's no evidence here that this officer has done anything but represent this community in a professional way," selectman Enrico Capucci told FOX25. “She reaches out to the community. I've seen her drive children to school."
Cappucci was the only one to vote in Officer Cromwell's favor.
"I do have some concerns, obviously, about the way she conducted police work and the way she did her job and that's the reason Sgt. Cromwell no longer works here," Chief Thomas Goulden said.
Goulden told FOX25 a series of infractions led to the discipline against Cromwell. The first, he said, was reported by Senecal.
“There was an incident that took place in Shirley and…we recovered images of a sexual nature on [this] tablet," he explained.
Senecal said he had reason to believe a minor child was being sexually exploited and brought the case and that tablet to Cromwell.
"The tablet was recovered in Sgt. Cromwell's desk -- where she left it -- when I met with her," Chief Goulden said.
According to Goulden, there was no report created for that incident either.
There were also two other disciplinary incidents not related to police work that Goulden said caused concern. That what prompted him to bring the matter to the board.
“My client is in a situation where she's being the target of retaliatory and discriminatory conduct,” Cromwell's attorney Larry Casey told FOX25.
Casey said Cromwell, a former Marine reservist, faced discrimination because she's a woman, African-American, and lesbian.
Cromwell has filed grievances through her unions. She and her attorney have also filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
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