Governor Baker Appoints New State Police Chief, Pivots Around Questions Regarding Dual Retirements Following ‘TrooperGate’

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BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker announced the appointment of a new superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police on the heels of Colonel Richard D. McKeon’s abrupt retirement days after a state trooper slapped him and the agency with a federal lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to scrub embarrassing and lurid details from the arrest report of a prominent judge’s daughter. 

“Today I swore-in Lieutenant Kerry Gilpin as the new superintendent colonel of the Massachusetts State Police,” Baker said during a brief press conference. “She has a 24-year history with the department, has served a variety of roles, is well-qualified and I believe will do a terrific job. She knows that we expect her to do a review of the policies, procedures, and protocols associated with editing arrest reports, and we’ll also be removing the observation reports from the files of the two troopers involved in this issue.”

Troopers Ryan Sceviour and Ali Rei have filed dual lawsuits alleging that McKeon, Major Barbara Anderson, and a host of “John/Jane Does” conspired to discipline Sceviour and Rei over the arrest report both filed concerning 30-year-old Alli Bibaud, daughter of Dudley District Court Judge Timothy Bibaud. On Tuesday the State Police’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes, submitted his retirement papers.

The union representing troopers Sceviour and Rei has alleged that both McKeon and Hughes chose retirement to avoid being brought into an upcoming internal affairs investigation.

Asked if he found the timing of the retirements, specifically of McKeon, problematic, Baker appeared to skirt around the question.

“Uhh, well, I was planning on appointing a new colonel today,” Baker told reporters. “So, we now have a new colonel, umm, the one who’s there needs to step aside, for the new colonel to step in.” 

“With respect to Trooper Hughes, colonels pick command staffs, just like governors pick cabinets, and I fully expect Colonel Gilpin will pick her own command staff as well.”

At several points during his appearance — beginning less than two minutes after he began responding to questions — Baker’s communications staff attempted to end the press conference.

The matter of how high up in state government the order to alter Bibauld’s arrest report came from has also drawn in Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett. Baker said Bennett helped him and Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito to select Gilpen to succeed McKeon.

“I had several conversations with the lieutenant governor and Secretary Bennett, and we concluded she was best qualified candidate at this time, and I believe she’s going to do a terrific job.”

Baker also reiterated a point McKeon laid out in his resignation letter — that the changing of arrest reports is not uncommon.

“There are reports edited all the time, they get edited for grammar, and sometimes they get edited for content, depending upon the charges,” Baker said. “I think the big issue here was the colonel took full responsibility for it from the beginning and I think he made a mistake.” 

Asked if Bennett or anyone else involved in the decision to order the scrubbing of details from Bibaud’s report may have been pressured by either Bibaud’s father or Worcester County District Joseph Early’s office — where Timothy Bibaud had worked for 20 years prior to being named by then-Governor Deval Patrick to a judgeship in 2010 — Baker was adamant. 

“I stand 100 percent behind Secretary Bennett, I do not believe Secretary did anything wrong,” Baker said. “Look, the colonel made very clear that he initiated this.

“We also made it clear that we thought it was a mistake. We also made it very clear that the State Police needs to clean up and make more explicit its policies and protocols associated with editing arrest reports. Secretary Bennett found out about this the same way most of the rest of us did, which was through the media.”

Court records show that Sceviour and Rei, despite having their critical observation reports destroyed, have not withdrawn their federal lawsuits.