Arrest Report Protocol Under Review As State Police Chief Steps Aside
BOSTON — Col. Richard McKeon, who Governor Charlie Baker appointed to head the State Police in the summer of 2015, will retire this month amid allegations that he improperly ordered a trooper to delete embarrassing details from an arrest report for the daughter of a state Trial Court judge.
Gov. Baker also said that he has ordered the State Police to examine its protocols for reviewing arrest reports.
McKeon announced his plans to retire Friday afternoon in letters to his fellow police officers and Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, a day after Baker indicated that he planned to wrap up an internal investigation into the incident quickly.
Named superintendent in July 2015, McKeon spent 35 years in the Massachusetts State Police. He will retire on Nov. 17, and an announcement regarding his successor is expected to be made in the coming days, a State Police spokesman said.
"Part of our code of honor is understanding when your own personal ambition detracts from the greater good of our mission. I have today decided that putting the greater good of the Massachusetts State Police first, necessitates my decision to retire after 35 years of proud service," McKeon wrote in a letter to his State Police colleagues.
The Baker administration launched an investigation into McKeon's handling of the arrest report of Alli Bibaud after the arresting trooper - Ryan Sceviour – filed a lawsuit against several of his superior officers, including McKeon, claiming he was reprimanded and forced to alter his report to shield Bibaud's father, a judge, from the public release of embarrassing details.
Judge Timothy Bibaud is a Trial Court judge in Dudley District Court, and oversees the drug court in that jurisdiction.
Alli Bibaud was arrested after Sceviour responded to an accident on Interstate 190 in Worcester and found her in possession of a heroin kit. She failed several field sobriety tests and was charged with operating under the influence.
The details later scrubbed from the arrest report at the direction of Sceviour's superiors included statements made by the defendant that her father was a judge and would be furious with her, and that she would perform sexual acts for leniency, and had done so to obtain drugs in the past.
The State Police never denied that the report was altered, but argued that such changes were routine and done to remove sensational aspects of the narrative that superior officers did not consider vital to the case against Bibaud.
"Leaving aside the details of the incident which you know, my decisions to instruct subordinates to focus the arrest report on information relevant to the charges made against this individual without compromising the strength of the case is instruction that I have given to the men and women under my command more times than I can remember. This is not unlike the thousands of cases we are involved in every year involving drug addiction," McKeon wrote in his letter to Bennett.
Baker, in a statement, thanked McKeon for his service and wished him well in retirement.
"The Governor believes that Colonel McKeon made a mistake by getting involved in the Bibaud case and has ordered the State Police to examine procedures for the review of arrest reports. Governor Baker recognizes the motivation to protect those with substance use disorders from potentially embarrassing information contained in their public records and expects the courts to hold the defendant accountable for all charges stemming from this incident," spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton said.
The administration said the negative "observation reports" given to Sceviour as reprimand for his handling of the report would be removed from his file.
McKeon wrote in both his letter to the State Police force and Bennett that those struggling with opioid addiction deserve the compassion of police.
"Illegal use of narcotics is a crime, and we never have backed down, and never will, from investigating, arresting, and prosecuting those who break our drug trafficking and possession laws. But opioid addiction is also a sickness, and as police officers, we stand tallest when we treat everyone we encounter with respect and decency," he said.
--Matt Murphy, State House News Service