Only in Mass!!!

Discussions of what any "conflicts of interest" in town. Business owners involved in town politics and not disclosing facts such as this, etc.

Only in Mass!!!

Postby tess on Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:17 am

The Gloucester Times


Tewksbury chief leads local probe
By Patrick Anderson
Staff Writer

Tewksbury's chief of police will lead the investigation by a regional police collaborative into threats allegedly made by a Gloucester police lieutenant in an apparent family dispute captured over police radio.

A team of internal affairs investigators from the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, led by Tewksbury Police Chief Alfred Donovan, arrived in Gloucester yesterday and began a probe requested by city officials into Lt. Michael O'Hanley.

O'Hanley is accused of telling a family member he intended to hire a man to "bust out" the windows of an unnamed woman, reportedly his daughter-in-law. Gloucester police Chief John Beaudette and the mayor's office called in the law enforcement council, or NEMLEC, to handle an investigation that will deal with operations at the highest levels of the Police Department.

The threat and surrounding conversation was recorded on police radio last Wednesday and news of it circulated in rumors and on the Internet until the mayor's office announced Monday that an investigation had been launched. Along with news of the investigation came the announcement that a recording of the radio broadcast had been leaked, along with the names of those involved, to a Boston television station, possibly from within the department.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Tuesday that the city's internal investigation would include finding out who had leaked the tape and why.

NEMLEC is a consortium of 47 police departments in Middlesex and Essex counties, plus two sheriff's departments, that all share specialized law enforcement resources for member communities. Examples of the services provided by the group include SWAT teams, computer specialists and crime scene investigators.

The group is led by a group of member chiefs, with Woburn Chief Philip Mahoney as its current president.

The group's executive director, Laura Nichols, yesterday called NEMLEC a "knowledge and resource multiplier" for local departments.

"Most of our places are small," Nichols said. "Because of their size, altogether they could create resources they wouldn't be able to on their own."

Chief Donovan of Tewksbury typically heads up the group's Internal Affairs team, Nichols said.

Kirk said yesterday that she is confident that NEMLEC was well-qualified to handle the investigation and the fact that its leadership may be familiar with members of Gloucester police leadership should not affect their impartiality.

"This is what they are suited for — it is one of the services they perform," Kirk said. "NEMLEC has their reputation they need to uphold. I have no reason to think that they will not be independent, thorough and objective."

The alternative to involving NEMLEC would have been to request the Essex County District Attorney become involved, but Kirk said Beaudette had recommended starting with NEMLEC.

O'Hanley, a department veteran whose appointment as lieutenant in 2005 was controversial because he was chosen over another sergeant who had higher test scores, is very close to Beaudette and one of his closest allies on the force, sources have told the Times. As lieutenant, O'Hanley heads the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift within the department's Patrol Division.

He is in the first week of a scheduled two-week vacation and is believed to not have yet returned to Gloucester.

The O'Hanley investigation comes as the city is prepared to study the operations of both the Police and Fire departments in a public safety audit. A consultant has been hired to conduct the audit, which is scheduled to be conducted this winter.

The Police Department has been through a several controversies in the last few years.

They include a lawsuit against the department by an officer who was disciplined for allegedly ignoring a rescue call, a complaint against Beaudette by the superior officers union for reportedly bumping a senior lieutenant and a federal lawsuit against the department by the officer, Sgt. John McCarthy, who was passed over for promotion in favor of O'Hanley three years ago.

Kirk said investigation into O'Hanley could still become criminal if the NEMLEC investigators thought it was warranted.

"We will pursue the investigation to where it leads," Kirk said.

Patrick Anderson can be reached at panderson@gloucestertimes.com
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