The following is a press release from the Governor’s office
BOSTON – Today, April 2, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin announced numerous reforms to State Police policies and procedures to increase oversight and accountability at the department. Reforms include eliminating Troop E, activating GPS technology in cruisers and developing a body camera program.
At a State House press conference, several changes were outlined by Governor Baker and Colonel Gilpin to reduce overtime shifts, publicly audit payroll, restructure staffing levels at key barracks and dramatically increase oversight and accountability across the Department.
“The Massachusetts State Police swore an oath to the citizens of the Commonwealth to fulfill their duties with dignity and integrity, and a series of recent incidents has sadly tarnished the department’s trust with the public,” said Governor Baker. “To restore transparency and accountability, our administration has collaborated with the Colonel on these reforms and I look forward to their swift implementation.”
“The vast majority of the department goes to work each day to protect and serve the public with great integrity, but recent overtime abuse and other incidents have impacted the public’s trust,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “I commend Colonel Gilpin and her command staff for collaborating with our administration on these extensive reforms to improve accountability so that State Police can better serve the public and keep our communities safe.”
“The people of Massachusetts have a right to expect excellence, professionalism, and accountability from the Massachusetts State Police,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “By adopting technology, beefing up internal controls, and scrutinizing staffing levels, our aim is to reform this critical department in ways that enhance public safety and public trust.”
“These reforms are a product of collaboration between my command staff, the administration, and me, with the shared goal of increasing the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the State Police while further enhancing our capabilities to protect everyone who lives-in, works and travels through our state,” said Colonel Gilpin. “I believe these reforms will improve the entire department from top to bottom, and better serve our dedicated troopers and the public. Their implementation will require much planning and hard work. We are committed to that effort.”
Reforms were also announced to immediately activate the use of the Automated Vehicle Location system (AVL), a GPS locator currently available in all marked police cruisers. It is used by several law enforcement agencies to prioritize officer safety and assist field commanders in their mission to effectively deploy personnel to emergencies. Governor Baker and Colonel Gilpin announced that the department will begin to develop a body camera program, which has already been piloted by the Boston Police Department.
Additionally, as previously announced, the results of an audit of overtime payments to Troop E personnel for Massachusetts Turnpike traffic enforcement patrols prompted a cancellation of those specific overtime patrols and a wider review. The Department today announced that Troop E will be eliminated as a stand-alone section, and existing Turnpike barracks will be absorbed into other regional Troops. Troopers working out of those four barracks will now be assigned to the regional Troop in which the barracks sits—either Troop B, C, or H—and report to that barrack’s command staff.
This restructuring will increase the pool of supervisors responsible for oversight within each Troop, increase the number of personnel available to respond to emergencies or incident on the Turnpike, align the Turnpike barracks more closely with the public safety issues faced by communities around them and with the priorities of the regional Troop commander.
Over the next 30-days, Colonel Gilpin will also conduct a study of the patrols and overtime shifts worked in each Turnpike barracks. This will enable the department to more efficiently deploy resources and examine the appropriate number of patrols assigned to each barracks location.
Additionally, the Department will conduct study of staffing needs at Troop F, which is responsible for protecting Logan Airport, Worcester Airport, and Hanscom Airport, along with other Port Authority properties. This review will determine optimal staffing levels and evaluate the reliance on overtime shifts at Troop F, a unique State Police section that assumed heightened security responsibilities post-9/11.
Governor Baker is requesting that, as part of this study, the Colonel looks at a plan for the Boston Police Department and State Police to work together to ensure the safety of the Seaport District.
Colonel Gilpin also announced ten new personnel assignments to the Department’s Staff Inspections Section and Internal Affairs Section. The Staff Inspections Section, responsible for ensuring that departmental policies and procedures are followed by MSP sections and units, will move to a seven-day weekly schedule, covering all three daily shifts—the section currently operates five days a week.
The addition of personnel to the Internal Affairs Section, responsible for investigating civilian complaints and other alleged violations of departmental policies and rules by members, will expedite investigations and, when violations are sustained, will allow the Department to more swiftly seek appropriate discipline.
Colonel Gilpin will also hire an independent auditing firm to assist her team in assessing the department’s overtime polices, protocols and record management process.
This audit is meant to institute stronger operational controls to monitor and manage staff assignments and overtime usage. Effective this quarter, the department will conduct quarterly audits of its top 50 pay earners to ensure they adhere to rules regarding limits on hours that can be worked per day and per week. The results of these audits, to be conducted through the department’s internal payroll system, will be made public.
To increase transparency, the public will also have access to a member’s troop assignment and can view the payroll records for all Troops of the State Police on the Comptroller’s website.
Regarding background checks of new recruit candidates, the department has broadened the questionnaire that recruit candidates are required to complete. Newly added questions ask about potential involvement by the candidate in any criminal investigation, even if the candidate was not charged with a crime. The department is exploring additional research measures for background investigators to increase the chance of identifying potential red flags among candidates.
When appointed to her post last November, Colonel Gilpin inherited a series of challenges at the department. She immediately contracted with an outside firm to investigate allegations about an altered arrest report and that review remains ongoing. The Colonel also ordered an audit of the overtime shifts for certain Turnpike traffic enforcement patrols, revealing alleged discrepancies between amounts paid to and actual shifts worked by more than 20 Troop E members.
After holding internal hearings, several of those members were suspended without pay while the investigation is conducted. The results of the entire audit have been provided to the Attorney General’s office, which will determine if any of the alleged discrepancies warrant criminal prosecution.
Reforms to Policy and Procedures at the Massachusetts State Police:
Activate AVL Technology in Marked Cruisers:
Enact a policy to implement Automated Vehicle Location, known as AVL, as a GPS locator to prioritize officer safety, track the location of our assets and to more efficiently deploy resources in the field. This technology is currently available in all marked police cruisers but has not been activated until now, and additional technology will be installed in other fleet assets in the coming months.
Develop a Body Camera Program for Officers:
Supported by the Governor, the department will develop a body camera program for the department to provide an additional level of accountability and accuracy for officers during their interactions with the public. Body Cameras have been piloted in the City of Boston and across the country and are intended to benefit both officers and members of the public with whom they interact.
Eliminate Troop E:
Troop E will be eliminated as a stand-alone section. Members currently stationed a Troop E, which is primarily responsible for patrolling the Massachusetts Turnpike, will be absorbed into existing regional barracks along the Pike. This reorganization will increase personnel levels for Troops B, C, and H, allowing for increases in field supervisors available to oversee Turnpike operations and additional patrols available to respond to the Turnpike if needed. The existing Turnpike barracks will remain open but troopers assigned to each will report to commanders of the geographic troops to which they are now assigned.
Authorize 30-Day Audit of Turnpike Barracks:
Colonel Gilpin will also conduct a study of the patrols and overtime shifts worked in each Turnpike barracks. This audit will identify ways to more effectively deploy resources and examine the appropriate number of patrols assigned to each barracks location.
Authorize 30-Day Study of Staffing Levels for Troop F:
The State Police will work with Massport to study the appropriate staffing levels for Troop F, which has the unique mission of protecting Logan Airport and Massport properties. Charged with protecting New England’s largest transportation hub, Troop F fields its own K9 unit, bomb squad, and detectives, who collaborate with other authorities such as the Joint Terrorism Task Force and TSA on a regular basis. This review may conclude that more personnel should be assigned to the troop to reduce the current reliance on overtime shifts. During this 30-day study, Governor Baker is requesting that the Colonel looks at a plan for the Boston Police Department and State Police to work together to ensure the safety of the Seaport.
Hire an Independent Auditing Firm:
Colonel Gilpin will hire an independent auditing firm to assess the department’s overtime polices, protocols and record management process and to institute stronger operational controls to monitor and manage staff assignments and overtime usage.
Strengthen Staff Inspection Program and Increase Internal Affairs Section:
Colonel Gilpin has authorized the creation of six new positions in the department’s Staff Inspections Section and four new positions in the Internal Affairs Section. Staff Inspections ensures that all sections and units adhere to departmental policies, rules, and regulations. This section will increase their duties to work seven days per week across all three daily shifts, instead of only Monday through Friday. Internal Affairs investigates citizen complaints against department members and other alleged violations of departmental rules or general laws. Increased personnel in the section will allow investigations to be completed more expeditiously.
Enforce Disciplinary Policies and Procedures through Internal Affairs:
Internal Affairs investigates citizen complaints against department members and other alleged violations of departmental rules or general laws. With increased personnel, the Department will focus on more strictly enforcing the code of conduct, to reduce the timeframes for investigations and complete investigations more expeditiously.
Order Quarterly Audit of Top Earners:
On a quarterly basis, the State Police will audit its top 50 pay earners to ensure they adhere to rules regarding daily and weekly hourly limits. The results of these audits will be made public.
Updated Payroll System and Increased Transparency:
By July 1st, Troop F members will be paid directly by State Police, and we will be reimbursed by Massport—a system consistent with how Troop E salaries are reimbursed to the State Police by Mass DOT.
Updated Questionnaires For New Recruits:
The department will refine and add questions to the questionnaire recruit candidates are required to complete. The changes include a deeper inquiry into potential involvement by the candidate in any criminal investigation, even if the candidate was not charged with a crime. The department will also explore additional research measures for background investigators to increase the chance of identifying potential red flags for candidates.