Governor Baker:  Tell Us You’ll Tell Us About Police Scandals

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What we haven’t heard in any of the pronouncements on the various Massachusetts State Police scandals is the one thing that’s vital:

A full and public account of what happened.

It’s time for Governor Charlie Baker to step to a microphone and pledge that whatever else it does, state government will let the people of Massachusetts know what took place and why.

This isn’t a “rush to judgment” of the sort that politicians are fond of pouting about, but rather a promise to make that judgment known once it has been made.

Without it, we can expect the usual dodging and weaving for why public explanations can’t be offered.

It’s a personnel matter.

It’s an internal matter.

It’s an open investigation.

These weak excuses aren’t good enough, and won’t be acceptable in the coming months. Public trust in the Massachusetts State Police is reeling.

If you’re having trouble remembering all the scandals that have erupted in the last four months, it’s understandable. Here’s an outline of the major ones and when they broke:

November 2017:  TrooperGate

A state trooper arrests a young woman at the scene of an accident in Worcester for possession of heroin, and when she tells him she got the heroin by performing sex acts and offers him sex acts for leniency, he includes those facts in his police report. But when the head of the State Police finds out the arrestee is the daughter of a judge and former Worcester County prosecutor, he orders the state trooper to take out the salacious (and incriminating) details.

Fallout so far:  Two abrupt retirements of State Police brass (Colonel Richard McKeon and Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes), two federal lawsuits by state troopers.

Still unknown:  Whether certain state law enforcement officials and Worcester County prosecutors were involved in scrubbing the police report.

February 2018:  LeighaGate

A state trooper is hired in 2014 despite having testified in open court in February 2007 that she had assisted her then-boyfriend in his large drug trafficking enterprise, helped him launder money, sold pounds of marijuana, and helped him hide $275,000 in drug cash after he was arrested, and then lied to a grand jury about what she did. The state trooper was the girlfriend of a State Police lieutenant colonel when she got hired.

Fallout so far:  Suspension of State Trooper Leigha Genduso, abrupt retirement of her boyfriend Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Risteen and of Major Susan Anderson (who was involved in TrooperGate).

Still unknown:  What kind of background check did Leigha Genduso get before she got her gig as a state trooper?  Who recommended her for the job?  How easy was (is?) it to get on the Massachusetts State Police?

March 2018:  Phantom Shifts

Twenty-one state troopers got overtime pay in 2016 for traffic-enforcement patrols on the Massachusetts Turnpike they didn’t work – including at least one who got paid for more than 100 phantom shifts, according to the State Police.

Fallout so far:  Disciplinary hearings announced for 19 state troopers. Further investigation expected.

Still unknown:  How many phantom shifts were there and how much money did the troopers get for them?  How was it possible for so many fake shifts to draw overtime pay? How widespread was (is?) this practice?

Public officials have made noises about honesty, integrity, and accountability. Good words – but to make them come true there needs to be a public rendering.

The head of the State Police should do it. The state’s public safety secretary should do it. Attorney General Maura Healey should do it.

But most of all, Governor Baker:  You should do it.

If you don’t, your political opponents may figure out a way to do it for you.