Another day, another State Police scandal
The most recent incident surfaced when the Boston Herald‘s Howie Carr was tipped off that trooper Andrew Patterson allegedly exposed himself while harassing a couple at Gillette Stadium during a concert earlier this summer. And kids happened to be around.
The couple says Patterson was masturbating, then tried to grind the woman he was next to while recording it on his cell phone. The woman’s boyfriend tried to knock the cellphone out of his hand, earning himself a punch in the face from the trooper. The boyfriend threw a chair at Patterson, after which Patterson’s buddy and fellow trooper Stephen Thomson displayed his badge and told the boyfriend he was “in big trouble now,” according to a police report.
Patterson, 32, was charged Thursday with lewd and lascivious conduct, and is on paid leave. He denies the allegations. State Police officials will hold a hearing to discuss his employment status today and will conduct an internal investigation. Patterson earned $149,764 last year.
The Patterson case is just the latest in a long string of incidents that read like a cross between a soap opera and The Departed. Former state trooper Matthew Hickey is facing assault charges, accused of shattering a woman’s tibia outside a Dorchester bar in 2018. Then there’s Matthew Sheehan, a trooper accused of writing racist rants on a message board, and separately charged with assault and battery on a Cape Verdean man during a highway incident. The Herald has the rest of the cringe-worthy laundry list.
Gov. Charlie Baker continues to stand behind State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin, who has yet to address the public on the scandals. While Baker called the allegations against Patterson “gross and disturbing,” he backed Gilpin for taking the necessary steps with troopers who he said “violated their oath.”
“I do think at the end of the day we all get judged by the work that we do,” Baker said. “She is the one who expanded the investigation into Troop E. She is the one who abolished Troop E.”
Baker was referring to the 46 troopers who were accused of collecting overtime pay for hours they never worked in a unit that was later disbanded by Gilpin. Gilpin herself came to power after a colonel retired after ordering a trooper to scrub statements from an arrest report involving a judge’s daughter.
On the accountability front, investigations into traffic citations were conducted by the state police and and referred to the state Attorney General’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office for potential criminal prosecution. Then federal investigations revealed state troopers were writing bogus traffic citations and destroying copies of said citations, which is illegal under state law. A former payroll supervisor also admitted to stealing from the agency.
Even as the bad news keeps coming, it’s crickets up at the State House, where legislators have yet to announce any real moves to investigate or provide any oversight of the State Police. The Baker administration is also taking a hands-off approach, letting the State Police deal with their own issues internally, while the feds do the clean-up.
Sen. Jamie Eldridge told the Globe in September he’d be interested in oversight hearings, but nothing has come of that. Speaker Robert DeLeo said in the same piece that some of the measures included in a state budget over a year ago, including the creation of an independent auditing unit, would help restore accountability down the road.
Other states may have some answers. In Pennsylvania, for example, elected officials announced police reform legislation last year, aimed mostly at local police departments, but with provisions that could be applied to a statewide police force. One bill suggested the creation of a statewide database to track allegations of misconduct against individual officers. Another would create an independent law enforcement oversight board that would have the power to investigate complaints and take disciplinary action against officers.
Legislative hearings have become mostly theater, according to two recent participants, Jean Trounstine and David J. Harris. (CommonWealth)
Attorney Margaret Monsell says Gov. Charlie Baker is overreacting on a court vaping decision. (CommonWealth)
Yes, more on the non-story of the imagined wave of PC zealotry aimed at banning people from calling someone a “bitch.” But this one is actually a helpful explainer by WBUR’s Steve Brown on the long history of the right of “free petition,” enshrined in the state constitution, that permits citizens to file legislation.
John Rosenthal, the founder of Stop Handgun Violence, is still at it after 25 years. (CommonWealth)
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera pushes “zombie property” legislation. (State House News)
A Globe editorial says the Baker administration has not been forthcoming in producing documents connecting the problems at the Registry of Motor Vehicles with the tragic death of seven motorcyclists, allegedly caused by a Massachusetts truck driver whose license should have been suspended.
Fitchburg senator Dean Tran has withdrawn legislation to weaken the Cape Cod Commission, a move that Truro senator Julian Cyr strongly opposed. (Cape Cod Times)
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera didn’t tell the city council about the single-car crash that Police Chief Roy Vasque got into last month, and Vasque said the incident has received attention because a former officer with a “vendetta” against the department has been posting about it on Facebook. (Eagle-Tribune)
A new study says Worcester, spurred by public and private investments, saw a 14 percent increase in its population between 1980 and 2016. But the study says future growth could be jeopardized unless more housing is built. (Telegram & Gazette)
Congressman Stephen Lynch was there when about two dozen Republican congressmen stormed a secure room in the Capitol to disrupt an impeachment inquiry proceeding, and he said his colleagues “just freaked out,” and measures would be taken to prevent a recurrence of that sort of “desperate stunt.” (WBUR)
WGBH checks in on the mayoral election in Somerville pitting the brash incumbent Joe Curtatone against Marianne Walles, a social worker who says the mayor hasn’t been aggressive enough in pushing for more affordable housing.
Grab the popcorn. A high-profile lawsuit involving two of Boston’s high-profile developers is getting underway, as Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish filed suit against Stephen Weiner over a failed development partnership to build pricey condos over the Mass. Turnpike in the Back Bay. (Boston Globe)
Efforts to scoop up more state sales tax revenue on e-commerce transactions have so far failed to yield big bucks. (Boston Globe)
First Ipswich Bank will merge with Brookline Bank and take on the larger bank’s name. (Salem News)
Dedham public school teachers went on strike Thursday afternoon in what is believed to be the first teachers’ strike in the state in 12 years. (Boston Globe)
Rep. Dan Cahill of Lynn says the education bill passed this week by the House could mean $100 million for his community through 2027. (Daily Item)
A union official from the New Bedford Educators Association, which has opposed charter school expansion in New Bedford, asked New Bedford school committee candidates and incumbents if they regret their vote and position on the failed Alma del Mar Charter School deal, and asked newcomers how they would’ve voted. (Standard-Times)
A new federal tax on university endowments will cost Harvard $50 million. (Boston Globe)
A California man who was severely burned in an automobile accident became the first black patient to receive a full face transplant in an operation conducted at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Boston Globe)
In its quest to make the blackest paint on the planet, NanoLab in Waltham is using hollow carbon nanotubes that swallow virtually all the light. (WBUR)
If you’re glad that pigeons and gulls haven’t inundated South Station, thank Joe O’Malley, general manager of the building who installed a noise-making machine to scare the birds away. (WGBH)
Attorney General Maura Healey sues ExxonMobil, alleging the oil giant knew 37 years ago that its products were causing global warming yet failed to disclose that information to Massachusetts investors and consumers. (CommonWealth)
Gaming regulators want to know the exact status of federal litigation around the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s quest to secure land in trust in Taunton before making a decision about moving ahead with the state’s third casino license. (Herald News)
Massachusetts lawmakers and cannabis industry leaders announce a pilot program providing scholarships, legal help, and job training to people harmed by federal drug policy. (MassLive)
Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants and Trial Court chief Paula Carey tell federal immigration officials they shouldn’t come after state defendants until the state is done with them and they shouldn’t come after them at all without first giving advance notice to court officials and the prosecuting district attorney. (CommonWealth)
Gov. Charlie Baker stands by his appointed head of the State Police as the stories of misconduct in the force seem to never end. The latest: a trooper under suspension for allegedly exposing himself and masturbating at a concert this summer at Gillette Stadium. (Boston Herald)
The owner of a dog kennel in Middleboro faces 28 animal abuse felony charges and neglect and abuse misdemeanors, following the removal of more than 20 animals in his care. (Brockton Enterprise)
A recorded phone call in which White House advisor Kellyanne Conway let loose on a Washington Examiner reporter has opened a window into the harsh (usually private) exchanges with reporters that can follow a story a principal doesn’t like. (Washington Post)