HN NOTE: This is PART 2 of an ongoing HN Report… CLICK HERE TO READ PART I
HN was alarmed when a senior Barnstable Police Officer came forward confidentially and said Chief Paul Macdonald once passed over other candidates on the civil service list to hire his daughter’s fiancé as a Barnstable Patrolman.
I remember feeling bad for the other candidates if this was, in fact, true – possibly as many as 8 candidates, according to the conversaton – who studied hard for the police exam, scored higher, in hopes of accomplishing their dream of becoming a Barnstable Police Officer.
There was only one problem with their dream — according to several sources – these candidates were not hired because they allegedly were not connected to the current chief.
Another police officer then told HN about the time when a cop complained to the chief about his concerns regarding unfair hiring practices, favoritism, and other concerns. The conversation became heated and the chief stood him up, took his gun and badge, and ordered him to meet with a psychologist. He passed the psychological exam and was soon back out on active patrol.
In fact, a common allegation (from citizens and police officers alike) against this current chief is that when someone questions or challenges him, he seems to question their mental health…
… which is a dangerous thing because the Barnstable Chief of Police is a very powerful position which carries a lot of local influence here on Cape Cod.
Are individuals being unfairly subjected to mental health evaluations when they would have otherwise ordinarily been unwarranted? HN was surprised to learn the answer may be “yes!” (More on this topic later…)
Barnstable Police Officers have bravely come forward expressing their concerns about corruption in the current police administration, but what has the Town of Barnstable done about it?
As mentioned in PART I of this ongoing HN Report, the Town of Barnstable is conducting an internal investigation into the Barnstable Police Department.
HN has been told that one Barnstable Police Officer has been on “paid administrative leave” for the past two and a half months, since about the same time when HN began looking into allegations of corruption within the Barnstable Police Administration.
Was this particular officer placed on paid administrative leave because of the Town Manager’s ongoing investigation? Or was this officer placed on the unusually lengthy leave in retaliation for the ongoing investigation? Or is it completely unrelated?
HN has been trying to learn more about this ongoing investigation, but has yet to hear back from anyone in the Barnstable Town Manager’s Office.
The following is a recent HN information request sent to Barnstable Town Manager Mark Ells:
TO: Town Manager Mark Ells, Town of Barnstable
From: Robert Bastille, Hyannis News
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
Hope all is well.
I’ve been trying to reach you by phone regarding several questions I have about your investigation into the Town of Barnstable Police Department.
Please provide all public information regarding your investigation into the Barnstable Police Department.
What was the reason for the investigation?
Who did the town hire to conduct this investigation?
How much is the town spending on this investigation?
Who did the investigation focus on?
How many individuals were interviewed during this investigation?
What are the results of this investigation at this time?
If found, what will the town being doing to remedy any issues?
If incomplete, when do you expect the investigation to be concluded?
Please also provide any additional information you believe the residents may need to know about.
Robert Bastille, HyannisNews.com
The next day HN received the following email from the town’s attorney:
Dear Mr. Bastille:
Please be advised that the below public records request has been forwarded to the Records Access Officer for response in accordance with the G.L. c 66 §10. Thank you.
Ruth J. Weil
Town of Barnstable
367 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
To which HN promptly replied:
TO: Kathy Hinckley, Town Manager Mark Ells, Town of Barnstable Attorney Ruth Weil, and any other appropriate ‘Records Access Officers’
From: Robert Bastille, Hyannis News
PART 2: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
Dear Ms. Weil,
Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter… and I hope this email finds you extremely well.
Could you please also forward these additional questions to the appropriate Records Access Officers for response in accordance with the G.L. c 66 §10… or in accordance with any other laws or policies related to the request for information from public town agencies and officials :
1. Without getting into specific names, how many currently employed sworn Barnstable Police Officers are currently on paid administrative leave?
2. Without getting into specific names, how many currently employed sworn Barnstable Police Officers have been taken off of active duty, completely or to some degree, where they are unable to fully perform their duties as a police officer for the Town of Barnstable?
3. Without getting into specific names, what are the general reasons for those sworn officers being placed on paid administrative leave, or having been removed from active duty? (for example, “disciplinary,” “medical,” ect..
4. In each case, what is the rank of the sworn police officer?
5. In each case, what is the length of time they have been on paid administrative leave… or how long have they been removed from active duty… or how long have they been on restricted duty?
6. In the case of disciplinary action, how many sworn police officers are currently being investigated by either the Barnstable Police administration and/or the private investigator recently contracted by the town?
7. In 2016 & 2017 so far, how many sworn police officers have been terminated or relieved of their duty as a Barnstable Police Officer? Also, how many police officers have voluntarily resigned from the force? (Please provide reasons for being terminated or having had resigned)
Please contact me at [508-xxx-xxxx] should you require any clarifications on these inquiries.
Please also note, as I will be likely reporting on and publishing on some of the aforementioned items, such as the private investigation into the Barnstable Police admin, please feel free to send along any prepared statement or information that readers of Hyannis News may need to know about.
I will also be seeking on camera interviews with any appropriate town official who can shed light on some of these issues. Any official wishing to shed light on these issues may reach me at [508-xxx-xxxx].
Again, thank you very much for your consideration and assistance in helping me distribute correct information to the public via Hyannis News. May God bless the Town of Barnstable, its residents and officials…
HN then received the following back from the town clerk’s office:
Dear Robert Bastile :
We have received your public Records request for Barnstable. This record is being assigned to appropriate department. The department reviewer will review the request and create an effort estimate to create the response. Per state mandate, for Barnstable, if the effort estimate is more than 2 hours, we will create a proposed cost estimate and will email such estimate to your attention. Once you approve the amount and send the payment, we will start working on your request.
In case the estimate is less than 2 hours, we will proceed to work on the response and will send you the response once the work is completed. Please also note that state mandate allows us to complete and send the response within 10 business days. We will do our due diligence towards this effort. However, the due date may be extended for any of the following reasons:
1. Any clarification that is required from you towards this request will stop the clock. The clock will be resumed once the proper clarification is received.
2. Payment of estimated effort – The time it takes to receive the due amount will be added to the original due date.
3. If in the opinion of the reviewer it is determined that original due date cannot be met despite reasonable effort, the due date shall be extended based on reviewer’s judgment. You will be promptly notified in such case with revised due date.
Ann Quirk, Super RAO
HN is, of course, very anxious to learn more from the town regarding the above concerns. Allegations of police corruption in hiring practices are extremely troubling for the community to say the least.
If confirmed, unfair practices indicate we are likely not hiring the best candidates for key influential police positions. It also would show a pattern for unfairness toward past candidates who had high hopes but may have been rejected because they did not have connections.
There are many other separate allegations of ongoing criminal corruption and harassment related to the Barnstable Police Administration. HN would like to share the town’s findings related to each and every one of these allegations…
… no matter what those findings show or do not show.
HN will update this report with the town’s findings as soon as possible…
UPDATE: BOTTOM LINE – The Town of Barnstable has made the unfortunate decision NOT to be transparent and to NOT release any information regarding the aforementioned investigation and issues.