Scope Of UMass Study May Prove Too Narrow To Address Needs

    On Monday May 20, 2019 at approximately 11.00AM,  a delegation of MAPLE members traveled to UMass Boston at Columbia Point to meet with a group of researchers designated by the state legislature to conduct a management review of the Mass State Police.  President Dennis Galvin, Vice President Al Puller and Standards Committee member Ed Denmark went to the offices of the Collins Institute located on the 10th floor of the Healey Library, to present a white paper on the situation confronting Massachusetts State Police Management.   Three members of the study group, met with the delegation.  Among them was former Lt Colonel Thomas Kennedy MSP ret, who served as Deputy Superintendent during the consolidation in 1992.  Also in the group is former Sergeant Dave Lambert, MSP Ret.  He was not at the meeting.  Lambert is currently the Dean of the Criminal Justice program at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island.

           During the one hour sit-down that followed, the MAPLE delegates pressed home the fact that the Massachusetts State Police hold a critical position in the state’s security matrix.  They hold a front line position with regard to terrorism prevention, the interdiction effort against illegal narcotics and human trafficking, and the promotion of highway safety.  They are also the state’s last line of defense for maintaining public order.  The delegation raised three concerns with the study group: political interference with the command staff, operational malfeasance, and criminality.  Specific issues were raised with regard to each of these concerns, specifically; instability within the command staff, lack of financial oversight, the integrity of the selection and training process, the political power of the union, deficiencies in first line supervision, criminal activity and the balkanized relationship the Department maintains with the authorities and the District Attorneys across the state.    

       Recommendations were offered. First and foremost was the need to depoliticize the Department. The delegation directed the study group to the recommendations of the Ware Commission, which were developed following the recent scandal involving the state’s Probation Department.  Strengthening the Colonel’s position by offering a term contract with cause for removal was suggested.  Improving first line supervision was identified as a critical need, as was restoring the independence of the State Police trial board system, removing all connections to Civil Service.  Improving the selection process was highlighted as well.  The delegation was critical of the practice of conducting mass examinations for recruitment. This was branded as inefficient and an impediment to facilitating the thorough screening required to ensure suitability of candidates.   The delegations strongly emphasized the need to restore public trust and confidence in the Department without which it cannot fulfill its mission.

           Tom Kennedy spoke for the study group, thanking MAPLE for its contribution to the discussion.  He informed us that the research group’s clients were the Secretary of Public Safety and the Mass State Police, not the state legislature.  He added that the focus of the group’s effort was to re-examine a staffing study done in 1993 by Northwestern University to verify whether the Department is properly staffed and to examine the feasibility of funding an annual training class.  Kennedy explained, that historically, training classes were never funded as part of the regular State Police budget.  They were regarded as appropriations over and above the baseline budget.  The Collins group is looking at changing that practice to see if classes can be included as part of the Department’s regular budget.  Michael Ward, the group’s coordinator informed the delegation that most of the issues raised by MAPLE during the meeting were probably beyond the scope of the charge the group had been given.  He added that he hoped MAPLE would not be disappointed with the final recommendations, which he said we due for release at the end of June.

The White Paper submitted by MAPLE is attached. 


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