WEST BOYLSTON, Mass. — Dennis Minnich has been Chief of Police in West Boylston since 1997. This week he found himself in hot water over an email he sent to the Director of the Worcester Board of Public Health.
The email bore the subject line, “Open Up My Town,” and it reads:
“I am alerting all of our businesses today that this ‘shut down’ is unconstitutional and illegal and that the PD will not enforce any actions by the B of H and furthermore that they should advise ‘agents’ of the B of H to leave the premises immediately.”
The WPBD will most certainly follow trespassing policies which are to arrest trespasses after notice. Please advise your personnel so as to avoid any issues.
These so-called “Orders’ by the Governor are not valid nor (constitutional) and will not be enforced.“
The Chief told me he sent the email as a clarification to the Director of the Worcester Board of Health when he couldn’t reach her by phone and did not intend for the email to be shared by the Board.
But it was, and one board member, Dr. John Sullivan, is quoted in the Worcester Telegram as firing back an email saying he was incensed and thought Chief Minnich should be dismissed from his job.
Dr. Sullivan told a Telegram reporter that Chief Minnich’s email was a veiled threat to Health Board members, that they could be arrested for trespass, if they tried to enforce the shutdown order.
In a phone conversation, Chief Minnich denied he threatened anyone in his email.
The chief added that while he personally believes the Governor’s business shut down orders are unconstitutional, but he is following the law, saying it is the Board of Health’s job to enforce the order, not his.
“I’m not going to go to a business and say you’re under arrest. That’s ridiculous. We don’t do that. We don’t do that to anybody,” Chief Minnich said.
Town Administrator Nancy Lucier told me she talked to the Chief, to selectman, and to Public Health Board members, including Dr. Sullivan, and received an apology from the Chief, who said he should have worded his email more carefully.
Lucier said in a statement, “The Chief never meant for his words to be construed as a threat, he apologized, and he intends to support the Board of Health should they have a need for assistance with any safety concerns. I consider the matter closed, and have deemed it to be resolved.”
I asked Chief Minnich if he would like to issue a public apology.
“If someone took that as a threat, I certainly would apologize for that, absolutely,” Chief Minnich told me.
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