Tracking police misconduct in Massachusetts
Dozens of new entries added to police misconduct database
As you may have seen in previous newsletters, I’m building a database of all allegations of misconduct by Massachusetts police officers that are reported by the news media in 2022. I put off updating the database for a while, so I just added a ton of entries — and today the newsletter mostly consists of those new stories.
You can view the complete database on my website here. The database currently has 115 entries, some involving multiple officers. If I missed an incident or made a mistake, please contact me about it — you can read the criteria for including an incident here. I try to use non-paywalled articles as sources when possible.
Here are the entries that I’ve added since last mentioning the database in the newsletter:
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Amherst police officer who was caught on video telling teens they “don’t have rights” was wrong but did not abuse authority, according to report by director of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Associated Press: Three Arlington police officers face lawsuit from Black man who alleges he was held at gunpoint, handcuffed, searched, and arrested by the officers in 2021. The officers had been chasing a white suspect. An internal investigation found that the officers violated several policies.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable agrees to pay $32,000 to settle lawsuit by woman who was injured after former police officer who allegedly wasn’t using siren or emergency lights rear-ended her vehicle in 2017.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable agrees to pay $35,000 to settle lawsuit by estate of pedestrian who died from his injuries after being struck by police officer who was allegedly driving 88 MPH in a 40 MPH zone in 2017.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable police lieutenant on paid leave due to pending internal affairs investigation for unspecified reasons.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable deputy police chief on paid leave due to pending investigation. The department closed one allegation of divulging confidential information as not sustained. A second investigation for unspecified reasons remains open.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable agrees to pay $400,000 to settle lawsuit by police officer who alleged he was demoted from detective due age discrimination and retaliation for reporting on-the-job-drinking by lieutenant.
Cape Cod Times: Barnstable agrees to pay $100,000 to settle lawsuit by man who was injured in 2017 motor vehicle accident involving police officer.
Boston.com: Boston police officer arrested after allegedly assaulting family member.
MassLive: Boston police detective sued by man who alleges the detective conspired with prosecutors to bring false witness-intimidation charges for heckling the distrist attorney at a 2021 press conference. A judge dismissed the charges, saying the man’s words were proected by the First Amendment.
CommonWealth: Boston police captain accused of eight policy violations for modifying police cruiser and his handling of a warrant sweep and investigation of racist remark cleared of all but two violations by hearing officer, who said the accusations appear “to have been orchestrated” and that “a review is warranted.”
WCVB: Boston police officers sued by family of man who died of drug overdose in holding cell after officers did not render aid until an hour after he stopped moving.
Universal Hub: Boston police officers sued by antifascist demonstrator who alleges officers attacked him at a 2019 white-supremacist march.
Boston Globe: Former Boston police officer alleges at hearing before Division of Administrative Law Appeals that department fired her in retaliation for complaining about captain, who she says assaulted her in 2012.
Salem News: Boston police sergeant arrested after allegedly assaulting fiancée at her home in Danvers.
MassLive: Brookline police chief put on paid leave while a private firm hired by the town investigates allegations that he violated the town’s policy against discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
Universal Hub: Cambridge police officer charged with OUI after driving into three motorcyclists stopped at red light, injuring two.
Herald News: Fall River police lieutenant arrested three times in six weeks, twice for alleged domestic violence toward the same family member and once for alleged OUI.
Universal Hub: Supreme Judicial Court throws out evidence after Gardner police officer obtains warrant to have man’s blood tested without consent in OUI investigation.
MassLive: Greenfield police chief reinstated after private firm hired by city finds there is no evidence he violated policy or lied under oath during racial discrimination lawsuit.
Recorder: Greenfield police lieutenant placed on paid leave and required to stay at home during work hours while city investigates alleged untruthful statements he made while testifying on behalf of Black officer who successfully sued city for racial discrimination. Lawyer for lieutenant calls move retaliation.
Recorder: Greenfield mayor announces independent audit of police department after jury finds it racially discriminated against Black officer.
MassLive: Hopkinton deputy police chief put on administrative leave while under investigation for unspecified reasons.
Lowell Sun: Prosecutors drop charges against man Lowell police officer arrested for cocaine trafficking, saying that the officer violated the man’s Fourth Amendment rights. The officer pulled the man over for not having his headlights activated even though it was still light out.
Universal Hub: Retired MBTA Transit police officer who beat homeless man then arrested him on fabricated assault charge in 2019 sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to assault and battery.
Boston.com: Grand jury will investigate after off-duty MBTA Transit police officer pulled gun on motorist then conspired with on-duty MBTA officer to cover it up.
Boston.com: Two Medfield police officers placed on leave after investigator hired by town finds officers working overnight regularly slept for up to five hours out of their eight-hour shifts. An unspecified number of other police personnel resigned after investigation began.
Boston Globe: Methuen police captain and former union head fired after investigation finds he lied to cover up former police chief’s role in drafting fraudulent contract that inflated police pay and made chief one of the highest paid in the country.
New Bedford Light: Two New Bedford police officers have suspensions reduced and one has suspension downgraded to warning after arbitrator found they failed to properly investigate crash involving city councilor but did not give preferential treatment. The councilor was charged with OUI as the result of a separate State Police investigation.
Public’s Radio: Former New Bedford police sergeant and union treasurer sentenced to three months in prison, six months of home confinement, and nearly $48,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to federal charges for misusing union funds for personal expenses like concert tickets, a trip to Florida, and his family’s phone bills.
NBC10 Boston: Pembroke police detective who had been drinking and crashed into elderly couple’s vehicle in 2021, putting both in the hospital with serious injuries, will not face criminal charges after show-cause hearing before clerk magistrate.
WBUR: Revere agrees to pay legal fees, insurance copays for therapy, and reinstates sick days for officer who accused police chief of harassment and bullying, including calling the officer a “rapist” in front of other officers.
WBUR: Revere police chief admits to sending inappropriate, sexually explicit images to employees in 2017, while he was a lieutenant. He was not disciplined.
WBUR: Revere agrees to pay $36,000 to settle lawsuit by woman who alleged that a police officer wrongfully arrested her and illegally searched her car.
WBUR: Revere police officer fired for being untruthful during internal affairs investigation. The officer filed a pending lawsuit to challenge his firing.
WBUR: Revere police officer fired for having sex with custodian at police station. The officer reached a tentative agreement to get his job back.
Telegram & Gazette: Former Rutland police officer again faces rape charges after his conviction for an alleged 2007 rape was vacated due to an error by his lawyer.
MassLive: Attorney General’s Office drops conspiracy charges related to 2015 fight between group of Springfield police officers and Black man outside bar against four officers.
MassLive: Springfield agrees to pay $345,000 to settle lawsuit by Jonathan Ramos, who alleged that a police officer fractured his skull with a metal baton and pepper sprayed him in an unprovoked attack then denied him medical attention.
Associated Press: Retired state trooper sentenced to two years probation including six months home confinement, more than $14,000 in restitution, and $5,500 in fines after pleading guilty to embezzlement for role in sprawling overtime-fraud scandal.
Boston 25 News: State trooper who crashed into home will not face criminal charges after show-cause hearing before clerk magistrate. At the time of the crash, the trooper was driving a vehicle that was missing a wheel due to him crashing into a guardrail minutes earlier.
MassLive: Former state trooper indicted on OUI homicide and negligent driving charges over 2021 crash that killed motorcyclist Christopher Zike.
Telegram & Gazette: Off-duty state trooper arrested on OUI charges by West Brookfield police. The trooper’s driver’s license was suspended after he declined a breath test.
MassLive: State Police Department sued for allegedly ignoring public records requests by lawyer representing victims of camera hidden in women’s locker room.
Universal Hub: State Police sued by state trooper who alleges the department refused to pay his lost wages for his suspension over assault charges from which he was acquitted in 2021.
Lowell Sun: After former Townsend police officer is arrested, town reveals that 2013 internal investigation found he was banned from a local Dunkin’ for harassing young women who worked there.
State House News Service: Seven police officers with last names starting with the letters A through H will not be certified to work in law enforcement by the Peace Officer Standards and Tranining Commission. The officers will have the opportunity to appeal.
MassLive: Worcester police officer faces larceny charges after allegedly submitting paperwork for 150 details he did not work, with pay totaling nearly $45,000.
And here are the old entires that have been updated since I last mentioned the database:
Boston.com: Two Acton police officers resign after being accused of inappropriate conduct by former high school student. The officers were disciplined for misconduct unrelated to the student’s allegations.
Universal Hub: Boston police officer, already facing charges for pointing gun at family members, gets reduced sentence of six months probation after pleading guilty to federal charge for selling $10,000 scratch ticket for cash to avoid taxes.
NBC10 Boston: Retired Brockton police chief faces negligent driving charge after veering off ramp, leading to three-vehicle crash that injured a woman in 2021. The charge was sought by a private citizen with no connection to the crash; State Police found that the chief was responsible but did not conduct field sobriety test or issue a citation.
NBC10 Boston: Mansfield police chief engaged in threatening and abusive behavior toward subordinates, damaged town property, and is not fit to serve, according to investigators hired by town. He remains on paid leave as town decides what to do.
MySouthborough.com: Southborough police chief reaches agreement with town and retires after investigation into allegations of unspecified misconduct.
WWLP: Springfield police officer acquitted of assault charges related to 2015 fight between group of officers and Black men.
Will Galvin Debate Campbell?
Earlier this month, I published a piece about the secretary of the commonwealth election and how it could affect access to public records. Incumbent William F. Galvin was primaried by Tanisha Sullivan, who argued the secretary’s office should be doing more to help the public access records, including beefing up the appeals process by holdings hearings.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Galvin won the primary — and it wasn’t even close. The Prince of Darkness took about 72 percent of the vote. I thought about writing a primary postmortem, but I didn’t really have anything particularly enlightening to say. Galvin is an entrenched political insider who had all the advantages: incumbency, name recognition, and money. He was a tough candidate to beat, and beaten he was not.
Perhaps Sullivan will run again in four years and have better luck. Galvin, now 72, told the Boston Globe’s Mark Shanahan in August that he “quite likely … will not run again.”
Galvin will face Republican Rayla Campbell in the general election, and I doubt he has anything to worry about. I mean, have you read my coverage of Campbell?
On that note, I want to draw your attention to some election analysis by GBH’s Adam Reilly, who wonders whether it’s reasonable for Galvin to dodge debates in the general election:
Republican Rayla Campbell’s penchant for provocation may give Galvin, the seven-term incumbent, a rationale for avoiding a debate altogether. Neither candidate responded to requests for comment.
At the Mass. GOP’s nominating convention in May, for example, Campbell suggested that Massachusetts 5-year-olds are currently being taught to perform oral sex on each other. And in June, Campbell filmed herself disrupting a drag-queen story hour at the Holbrook Public Library, demanding to know if the performer had been subjected to a criminal-records check and repeatedly stating, “I’m protecting children.”
“Candidates owe the public a clear statement and clear means of differentiating,” [Tammy] Vigil, the [Boston University] professor, said. “But in a lot of cases, you can’t always trust your opposition to engage in an accurate, fair, and informed debate.
“For some candidates, it makes sense to offer other ways of getting the contrasts and the statements out,” Vigil added. “Because there is a lack of trust — especially these days — in the ability or the willingness of the opponent to actually engage in a debate that is informed by reason.”
If Galvin, a veteran political operator known for his ability to leverage almost any situation to his advantage, is looking for an excuse not to engage, that may be all he needs.
I’m not Nostradamus, but I think this is a very likely outcome. I’m also predicting that Campbell will pull some impotent stunt — I can only imagine what — to get attention before the election.
Law Enforcement Records Access Officer Directory
I should have mentioned this earlier, but USA Today reporter Kyle Stucker compiled a spreadsheet with contact information for records access officers for all law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts. He released the spreadsheet publicly on August 1. I gave Stucker my own incomplete spreadsheet to assist him, and it was a pleasure to help.
It’s always a good idea to verify that the contact information is accurate before making a request, but you might find this spreadsheet helpful — especially if you have a project that requires sending requests to a large number of agencies.
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