Ah, back in May, 2001. Caused a bit of stir here when Webster, MA PD used a fire truck & turnout gear for a drug raid. Chief then was Bergeron, and investigation was led by then-Sgt. now-Deputy Chief probably-soon-Sgt. again Ralph. I haven't been posting here on this all summer as the soap opera played out, but I thought this article was good. Also has some lessons for those dysfunctional fire departments out there too.
Oh, I bolded one section below. I've said in the past a lot of what I see happen in Webster, both passing through and in the papers seems like they operate like towns did 40 years ago...
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Stress-handling sessions urged for Webster police
Report cites lapses in professionalism
By John Dignam
WEBSTER- An investigation into the Police Department recommends actions for the four people whose behavior plunged the department into a year of confusion and rancor.
Citing distrust "bordering on paranoia" among police and selectmen, the report also recommends the development of rules, regulations and directives to straighten out what seems to have become a rudderless, listing ship.
The investigators, retired Judge Robert A. Barton and lawyer Karen Dean-Smith, reported that things have gotten as bad as they have, in part, because Police Chief Richard E. Bergeron "overall was a poor manager."
The report said that no allegations against Chief Bergeron were criminal in nature, but they concerned conduct and management.
The investigation looked at the operation of the 29-member Police Department, selectmen's interference in the department's business, and the ever-present and powerful influence of politics in Webster. But it focused on Chief Bergeron, with much attention given to Deputy Chief Thomas V. Ralph, Sgt. John Bolduc and Patrolman Brian J. Barnes.
"The chief and his three sons" is an anonymous quote the report used to characterize the relationship between Chief Bergeron and the three officers.
"There is almost unanimous agreement that these three were the "in crowd,'" the report said.
A rift among those three split the Police Department into three factions: one for Chief Bergeron and Patrolman Barnes, who had served as a Quincy police dispatcher; one for Deputy Chief Ralph; and, "to a lesser extent," one for Sgt. Bolduc, according to the report.
A larger split cut the Police Department and Board of Selectmen into two factions - for and against the chief - that "resulted in widespread distrust, bordering on paranoia."
It was a paranoia, the report claimed, that "turned some members of the board and the Police Department into wandering paparazzi, snapping photos of each other.
"It would be comical if it were not a sad commentary on the disintegration of professionalism and is a virulent symptom of the lack of appropriate boundaries between the board and the Police Department."
The report recommends that all members of the Police Department undergo stress management.
For the department to right itself, the report recommends that Chief Bergeron take the retirement he has said he had planned.
The investigators' report also recommended that Deputy Chief Ralph's demotion to sergeant last month stand.
The new town administrator, Robin J. Leal, who demoted him, restored his rank and held a hearing Tuesday, in keeping with the town charter, to determine whether she, as appointing authority of the Police Department, had cause to demote him. She said she would inform the deputy chief of her decision.
The report further recommended that Sgt. Bolduc and "others who may be identified as needing extra attention" undergo added anger management, and that Patrolman Barnes "be issued another Letter of Adherence to Higher Standards, the investigators finding that he is still engaging in inappropriate behavior."
The report said many people thought Chief Bergeron, a former Quincy police sergeant, to be an "excellent cop" and "great investigator." He was praised for heading major and successful drug busts when he arrived in Webster, affording police officers educational opportunities and making advances in technology.
But what some praised as a laid-back style when Chief Bergeron arrived was seen by the investigators as the lack of interest or ability to manage, which led to many of the department's problems.
He didn't like paperwork, delegated administrative duties, didn't implement rules and regulations, relied on personal loyalties and was not open to criticism, the report said. It also was charged that he did not treat all officers equally, according to the report.
"The chief clearly lost his temper on many occasions. This is hardly a good example for the rest of the department and may have served as a negative model," the report said.
"During the course of this investigation, it became apparent that the chief was the lightning rod for internal and external political cross-fires which erupted within and outside of the department," the report said.
"While the capacity to attract both attention and dissension is inherent in the job, the chief was unable to deflect or defuse the situation and in some instances exacerbated it," the report said.
Blame was laid on "his (Chief Bergeron's) personality and temperament, systemic deficiencies which predated his appointment, adoption of an outdated managerial model, a chain of command with missing links, and blatant interference with the department's operation by the Board of Selectmen."
The first event listed in the four-page timeline in the report of the investigators was a Feb. 27 letter from Patrolman Barnes to Selectman Irene A. Martel concerning his allegations about Robert J. Miller, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
The second event was Patrolman Barnes announcing at the March 3 selectmen's meeting that Mr. Miller was under investigation.
And the third was Deputy Chief Ralph meeting with then Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz, during which the officer said that Patrolman Barnes was "out of control and that Chief Bergeron refused to discipline him or permit Deputy Chief Ralph to do so," the report says.
Anticipating that Chief Bergeron might try to remove him as deputy chief, the officer asked Mr. Stankiewicz what job protection he had, according to the report.
The investigators reported that many people who were interviewed found Patrolman Barnes to be the "catalyst, the common denominator" of the issues that arose within the Police Department.
They said Chief Bergeron gave preferential treatment to Patrolman Barnes and that the patrolman got away with inappropriate remarks and "smart remarks" for which others would have been taken to task.
The report cites two "spectacular lapses in judgment" on Patrolman Barnes' part. One was a letter to local judges, on Police Department stationery, criticizing comments they had made. The other was his announcement at a selectmen's meeting that Mr. Miller was supposedly under investigation.
The investigators said Chief Bergeron had finally asked then Deputy Chief Ralph to "rein him (Barnes) in," but that the split between the two top-ranking police officers arose when Deputy Chief Ralph filed a complaint against Patrolman Barnes regarding allegations of racism.
Patrolman Barnes had filed a complaint that Deputy Chief Ralph helped Sgt. Bolduc with the sergeant's exam. And, according to the investigators, Sgt. Bolduc was "surrounded by controversy" because of his temper and aggressiveness.
According to the report, a complaint had been filed against Sgt. Bolduc alleging police brutality. The report said the accuser did not respond to investigators' requests for comment.
Sgt. Bolduc admitted striking a prisoner once, in support of Patrolman Leonard Gevry, who was being attacked. But Patrolman Gevry told investigators he did not need help. The deputy chief did not interview the accuser or Patrolman Gevry in his investigation of the incident.
The report also noted that Sgt. Bolduc had threatened to beat Patrolman Gevry in an incident unrelated to the brutality charge and that another police officer had quit in fear of Sgt. Bolduc.
The report, though, also noted that both Sgt. Bolduc and Patrolman Barnes have been praised for their actions and contributions.
Sgt. Bolduc has been commended for his job performance and praised for his investigative work and community policing contributions. Patrolman Barnes has been praised for his involvement with the community and charitable programs, and his work as a school resource officer.
The investigators reported they were told there were no rules and regulations governing the Police Department, although Ms. Leal found a long-forgotten set of rules and regulations "buried in a file drawer." They had been adopted in 1962.
The investigators said the Police Department was operated under an "old school" style of management, strong on a paramilitary structure and personal loyalties. They said that sense of loyalty, at times, "clouded his (Chief Bergeron's) judgment."
The report recommended, "The chief should enter into a formal agreement with the town to retire by a certain date. In this way, the stability of the department can be ensured as well as the dignity of a chief who had a long, distinguished career."
In their investigation, Judge Barton and Ms. Dean-Smith took formal testimony from Chief Bergeron, Deputy Chief Ralph, Sgt. Bolduc, Patrolman Barnes, Patrolman Thomas Pysell and former Selectman Ed Hanc. Other interviews included the five current selectmen, two former town administrators, four former police officers, the wife of a former police officer, 20 other police officers, three Finance Committee members, the town accountant, Chief Bergeron's former secretary, and six other Webster residents.
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Thread: Remember these guys???
12-11-2003, 11:40 AM #1
Remember these guys???
12-11-2003, 02:20 PM #2
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