New Salem officer facing OUI charge on probation until 2024

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-29-2023 4:59 PM

GREENFIELD — The case of a New Salem Police Officer facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol has been continued without a finding until next year after the defendant admitted the prosecution has sufficient facts to prove his guilt.

Charles J. Brooks, 39, of Amherst Road in Belchertown, will be on probation until Feb. 1, 2024, when he is due back in Greenfield District Court, according to court records. Brooks was arrested at a town official’s home in the early hours of Jan. 22 following a 911 call from the official.

When reached by phone on Wednesday, Town Coordinator Kathy Neal said she was unaware if Brooks would be working shifts in New Salem over the next 10 months. Megan Gallo, who is listed on Leverett’s municipal website as a full-time officer for that town’s police department, has been hired as a part-time officer for New Salem, but has not yet started. Neal said she did not know if Gallo was hired to cover Brooks’ shifts during his court-ordered probation.

The Greenfield Recorder made repeated unsuccessful attempts this week to contact New Salem Police Chief John Bonafini and the town’s Selectboard members. Brooks’ defense attorney, Isaac Mass, also declined to comment regarding his client’s employment status.

According to an arrest narrative filed by State Trooper Mary Ashley, she was dispatched to South Main Street for a report of a suspicious person and vehicle at roughly 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 22. Ashley arrived to find Troopers Cliff Desrosena and Kevin Doyle already there, with Desrosena talking to Brooks and Doyle speaking with the town official.

The arrest narrative states Brooks produced a New Salem Police identification card when asked for his driver’s license. Brooks, seated in a white GMC Sierra truck, was also noted as having slurred speech and glossy, bloodshot eyes. According to Ashley’s report, Brooks eventually handed his wallet to Desrosena to get the license.

Brooks reportedly complied when Ashley asked him to exit the vehicle but was unsteady on his feet, using the truck’s door and doorframe for balance, according to the police report.

Ashley also detected a strong odor of alcohol. Brooks was handcuffed for operating under the influence of liquor after declining to answer any more questions and declining a field sobriety test.

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The town official told police she saw Brooks parked at the end of her driveway, with the truck’s headlights shining into her bedroom. She said she turned on her outdoor lights, at which time Brooks drove up the driveway and parked in front of her garage.

Ashley’s report states the town official told police Brooks was unsteady on his feet and looked as though he might fall.

After complaining of chest pains and being taken to Athol Hospital for evaluation, Brooks reportedly consented to a blood test. He was discharged from the hospital at roughly 6:10 a.m. and transported to the Athol State Police barracks for booking, according to Ashley’s report.

As Brooks is a police officer with a nearby department, Judge Jacklyn Connly of Orange District Court ordered the case be transferred to Greenfield District Court to avoid a conflict of interest.

According to Leyden Selectboard meeting minutes posted online, Brooks was also previously an officer in Leyden, having been appointed to a six-month probationary period in February 2021.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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