‘Missing Shifts’ Overtime Scandal Widening at State Police
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — A review initially launched to look at overtime payments made to a handful of State Police members has uncovered possibly more malfeasance, as audit results have been turned over to the attorney general and 19 members of the force face hearings to address discrepancies between patrols they said they worked and overtime amounts they were paid.
In Framingham on Tuesday, State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin announced results of an audit of overtime traffic enforcement patrols allegedly worked by State Police on the Massachusetts Turnpike in 2016. An investigation had raised questions about payments to Troop E members for Accident Incidence Reduction Effort (AIRE) shifts and Gilpin expanded the scope of the audit, which is now being extended to overtime traffic enforcement shifts by all personnel.
"The number of missing shifts, we'll say, range from as few as one to as high as a hundred," Gilpin said.
Hearings scheduled for the 19 members of the force -- from troopers to sergeants to lieutenants -- "will determine the duty status of the members while further investigation is conducted," the State Police said. Changes in status are possible, "up to and including suspension without pay" while further investigation is conducted, the agency said.
The State Police have also given the internal audit results to Attorney General Maura Healey for further investigation.
At an unrelated event in Haverhill on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the State Police is a "strong, good, well-trained unit" but foreshadowed possible repercussions for some members of the force.
"Clearly there are some people here who broke the rules, allegedly, got way beyond the bounds of what anybody would consider to be appropriate behavior and for those who are found to have committed what's been alleged they should face the music," Baker said.
The department eliminated AIRE patrols last year. "State Police also have undertaken measures to increase accountability and oversight of remaining overtime shifts, to ensure that Troopers report to supervisors at the start and end of each shift and, upon conclusion of each shift, turn in citations written during that shift," the agency said.
Gilpin said she's committed to having honesty and integrity, values brought into question by the audit results, as core elements at the State Police. "For us to fulfill our mission as a police agency we must have public trust," she said.
Public Safety Secretary Dan Bennett, who like Gilpin was appointed by Gov. Baker, expressed confidence in her.
"The hardest job a new colonel has ever had with regard to the State Police is being done by Colonel Gilpin," Bennett said. "She's had a hard job since the first day she got on. Every time a difficult issue has come up she's dealt with it fairly and with the object of that to make the State Police a better organization."
Said Baker, "What she's done today with this announcement and the referral to the attorney general I think has made a pretty clear statement that this sort of activity and this sort of behavior is not going to be tolerated."
Gilpin did not offer an estimate of the amount of overtime that may have been improperly paid, noting she began as colonel in November. "I can't speak to what happened prior to my appointment," she said.
Days after the abrupt retirements of Colonel Richard McKeon and his top deputy, Gov. Baker last November made Gilpin the new leader of the 2,100-member State Police force. The change in leadership occurred amidst controversy over the department's handling of an arrest report for the daughter of a central Massachusetts judge.
Two troopers filed lawsuits against McKeon and senior State Police command members after being forced to amend a report on the arrest of Alli Bibaud, the daughter of a Dudley District Court judge, including deleting statements made by the suspect referencing her father's profession and offering sexual favors for leniency.
Gilpin, of Hampden, joined the State Police in 1994.
--Michael P. Norton, State House News Service