Amid Karen Read Trial Controversy, Maura Healey Plans To Take Action Regarding State Police Leadership

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By Sam Drysdale
State House News Service

Governor Maura Healey on Monday promised more information “soon” on her pick to lead the Massachusetts State Police, amidst renewed calls for reform at the agency.

The State Police have been in the spotlight again after a trooper’s crude text messages were read aloud on the stand during the widely-watched Karen Read murder trial last week.

Meanwhile, the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security says it’s close to picking a final applicant as the next superintendent and colonel of the agency, 16 months after the job opened up.

Interim Colonel John Mawn Jr. has been leading the State Police since Colonel Christopher Mason retired in February 2023.

“From the beginning of our search process, we, in fact, have opened it up for the first time ever to consider candidates outside of the Massachusetts State Police,” Healey said Monday, June 17 in response to a reporter’s question about looking outside the agency for its next leader.

She is the first governor able to take advantage of a provision of the 2020 policing reform law allowing the State Police colonel to be hired from outside of the department’s current ranks.

“I want folks to know the following:  As governor and former attorney general, I want to make sure that we have the very best personnel throughout the ranks in the Massachusetts State Police. And that includes the position of colonel, that’s a process that is under way. We’ll have more on that soon,” Healey said.

She added:  “And I spoke last week to comments made by the individual who is in the CPAC unit assigned to the district attorney’s office in the Read investigation.”

Read is accused of backing her car into her Boston police officer boyfriend, John O’Keefe, and leaving him to die outside a Canton home in January 2022. Her attorneys contend she is being framed as part of a larger cover-up. The trial has attracted the attention of the media and Internet sleuths from around the world.

Trooper Michael Proctor, a lead investigator on the case, took the stand in Dedham District Court last week. During cross-examination, Read’s attorneys had Proctor read aloud text messages he sent to other troopers and friends disparaging Read, commenting on her physical appearance using vulgar language, suggesting he had made up his mind based on evidence as to Read’s guilt, and saying he wished Read would kill herself.

Healey told reporters last week, “It’s terrible … It’s completely unprofessional. It does harm, frankly, to the dignity and the integrity of the work of men and women across the State Police and law enforcement. So as a former attorney general and as governor, I am disgusted by that.”

Asked on Monday to respond to Proctor’s texts and subsequent calls to reform the State Police, Senate President Karen Spilka said that bringing on a new colonel would help.

“They’re looking at a new leader right now, and I think that clearly, this has been going on for quite a while,” Spilka said. “It needs a plan, and there will be new leadership.”


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