Officer Jennifer Hutchins Terminated

Woodstock Village Trustees have unanimously voted to terminate
Officer Jennifer Hutchins from service with the Woodstock Police Department.

Saying it was a disciplinary personnel issue, none of the Trustees nor Village Attorney Beth Rattigan nor Woodstock Police Chief Robbie Blish would comment on the decision.

We have no details on the nature of the allegations and no record of the executive session at which the decision was made.

Trustee Chris Miller tried to clarify for some members of the public who asked why they could not hold the hearing in public. No details were provided but Miller said it was to protect the employee.

Rattigan said an earlier hearing had closed with all testimony having been given and today’s meeting was just a continuation of deliberations.

14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nicole Bartner on May 7, 2013 at 19:06

    “First they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Woodstock should be ashamed of itself. Secret “hearings” with secret allegations and secret evidence terminating employees who serve the public good.

    Those who have allowed these “secret” proceedings to take place will deserve it when the time comes for their terminations . . .

    I have four words for the Woodstock Village Trustees, Robbie Blish and Phil Swanson (who sits over all): Freedom of Information Act.

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  2. I think the town of Woodstock should be ashamed of it’s” secret little allegations, secret proceedings and secret evidence “.To terminate a 7 year employee , somebody who has served the public all over “secret hearings”, makes me happy I don’t live in the up scaled, full of shit community. SHAME ON THE VILLAGE TRUSTEES, ROBBIE BLISH AND PHIL SWANSON!!!!!!!

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    • and if I was a tax payer in Woodstock I would demand a public town meeting. People have a right to know what went so horribly wrong that a officer of 7 years gets terminated, wow front page news..I mean its only her life but instead lets just KEEP IT A BIG SECRET!!!!!!!

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  3. Posted by John on May 7, 2013 at 20:57

    I have to agree with both of the previous comments it will come back to bite them in the ass, but. Ti’s is Woodstock and that is how they operate they operate by Woodstock for Woodstock they serve to serve themselves, they may have very good reason for the terminaton but unless they let it out we the people will never know and can not judge for ourselves, how can we know if our leaders are doing a good job if we do not know what, how, and why they are doing it.

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  4. Posted by peter on May 7, 2013 at 21:31

    Officer Jen unlike those above can state her case right now on these blog

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  5. Posted by Careen on May 7, 2013 at 22:30

    I was not able to attend the hearing because of a work conflict . I am so disappointed in the whole process. I know we’ve lost a significant voice for women in our community but I have no idea why . I cannot believe that ,in 2013 in our supposed hip, forward- thinking town ,we are witnessing such a miscarriage of justice . It makes me want to move . I would just like to go on record saying “Thanks Officer Jen for a job well done”

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  6. Posted by Andrew on May 8, 2013 at 06:21

    I wonder if any of the people responding to this news have ever had to terminate someone. The ‘secrecy’ is there for one reason – to protect the employee! Employees are entitled to privacy and even though she may be in the public eye, that does not diminish her rights.

    Let me pose a question – what if the allegations weren’t about the incident at Suicide Six? What if it was something more selacious? Should we still have a front row seat to the hearing? NO. Or another question – what if it was you and you were being terminated because you we’re caught at work having sex with a co-worker in an office. Would you want the proceedings to be open to the whole company? I think the answer would be no.

    Officer Jen was very much in the public eye, and I am sorry to see this outcome, but I do NOT have some right to participate in her hearings. And neither do any of us unless we were involved in the incident. Remember, she is not an elected official – she is an employee of the town.

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  7. Posted by Steven Thomas on May 8, 2013 at 07:24

    I have always thought Officer Jen was a great asset to the department and the community. I went to the meeting yesterday and spoke up in her favor prior to the closed executive meeting. I also said I wasn’t happy that this was all so hush-hush. Chris Miller took pains to ask some questions before the closed session in order to, I think, tease out some information from Beth Rattigan to inform those present that the meeting was closed for the benefit of all involved. I do believe I heard it said that had Officer Jen wanted to have the hearing open, it could have been.

    Again, from my experience, I still believe that Jen was a great asset to the department and the community and I am sorry she will no longer be on the force.

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    • Steven,

      Thanks for this bit of information. WEB’s interpretation is a bit different. We sensed that despite the idea that Officer Jen’s attorney could have asked for an open meeting and did not, the request to have an open meeting would not have been popular nor granted by Trustees who said unequivocally they supported the idea of an executive session for the protection of the employee in question and any other employees involved.

      We do think it should have been the Trustees who might have suggested public input prior to the closed door session as a way to understand the public’s perception of a valued public servant – pro or con.

      We also believe based on new information that this hearing was very much meant to protect others within the police department whose actions in other situations might also be questionable.

      While this is all internal personnel issue-related, the outcome very much affects the public and our sense of trust and well-being.

      Or lack thereof.

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  8. Posted by Gina on May 8, 2013 at 07:36

    Could this possibly be the best way for the town to avoid future lawsuits and/or court and lawyer costs?? Their hands may be tied for reasons we are unaware of . After all their ultimate goal is the best interest of the taxpayer and those who elected them. We have to remember there are two sides of an issue. Obviously facts were strong enough to go this far. Labor laws are in place to protect individuals and it appears the town didn’t break any of those. It might be helpful if a town official commented on reasoning of the need to keep the hearing from a public forum.

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    • Posted by Nicole Bartner on May 8, 2013 at 18:36

      Phil Swanson is not an elected official. “Chief of Police” Robbie Blish reports to/answers to, only Phil Swanson. There are no checks and balances within this “so-called” chain of command and there is no accountability. Taxpayers and voters have no recourse within the “power hierarchy” as it currently stands in Woodstock.

      Understand how your municipality is run. Work to improve it.

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  9. Posted by A. E. Norton on May 8, 2013 at 07:49

    I do not know the details, and I understand the reason for the closed hearing(s), but I hope discrimination was not involved. I have a feeling this issue is not going to die a quiet death. I get the sense that a lot of Woodstock residents would like to know, consistent with privacy issues, what actually happened.

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  10. Posted by Brenda Blakeman on May 8, 2013 at 08:09

    i have always felt that officer Jen Hutchins has been a real asset to our community, she has always taken her job seriously , to serve and protect our community, is that not the job of a police officer? Her friendly, personal interest in our community should be commended, not terminated , i am very sad about this decision!!!!

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  11. Posted by Pat Crocker on May 8, 2013 at 10:14

    I want to join those who are expressing their sadness at a valuable member of our police staff. Jen will be terribly missed by many of us and it will be a loss to the entire community who benefited from her friendly and professional service. Best wishes to Jen for a bright future…you will survive this painful bump in the road and go on to do better things.

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