Baker seeks new policies, procedures for state police amid overtime abuse allegations
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday ordered changes to the Massachusetts State Police after an overtime audit uncovered major problems, including an abuse of overtime by more than 20 troopers.
Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey has launched a criminal investigation and has called on the Republican governor to show more leadership on issues plaguing the state police.
While Baker said the Massachusetts State Police “has a long and honorable history,” that history has been tarnished, as the troopers allegedly reported overtime pay for hours they didn’t work in 2016.
Taxpayers don't know yet how much of their money was overpaid. The amount will be released once the investigation is final.
“As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing,” said Baker. “We're talking here about sworn officers of the law, who every single day as part of their mission to protect the public (and) arrest people.”
Nine troopers have since retired and nine others are suspended without pay.
“Those people are ultimately accountable for their actions. The same should be true as respect to those members of the law enforcement community who violate those laws,” said Baker. “But there's a lot of work to be done here to polish this one up.”
State police plan to turn on a GPS tracking in cruisers, which will help verify hours worked. They haven't said why the technology existed, but is only being utilized now.
“These changes will not happen overnight,” said Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin. “It is clear that the actions of members of this agency have threatened that trust.”
Most of the troopers who have been accused of reporting false hours were patrolling the Massachusetts Turnpike.
“Restoring public trust to an agency that has so much day-to-day contact with the public -- once it's been bruised isn't easy to do,” said Baker.
The department also plans to audit the top 50 earners each quarter. The audits will be available for inspection by the public.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)