SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 19, 2014

Our view: Salem should welcome outside review of police department

Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll’s hiring of an outside investigator to probe the alleged misconduct of police Capt. Brian Gilligan — as well as whether Gilligan was properly disciplined for his actions — is a smart and necessary first step in dealing with the issue. Salem residents need a full and clear accounting if they are to have confidence in the police department and its leadership.

Police Chief Paul Tucker suspended Gilligan for five days without pay last month after a department investigation found that it appeared that he worked private details while on duty — possibly “double-dipping” on four occasions — and improperly documented his hours. Gilligan, who until the suspension was in charge of the department’s private-detail system, also lost 12 vacation days and was barred from detail work for 14 days.

Almost immediately, questions arose from within the department as to whether Gilligan was punished too lightly, in part because of the captain’s friendship with the chief.

“I think that’s part of the fact pattern here,” Driscoll told reporter Neil Dempsey Tuesday. “They are friendly, and they have been close, and it’s not a secret.”

Tucker said he welcomed the review.

“This department has been extremely well-run for a long time, and if anybody has any doubts, we want to remove them,” he said. “I want this to be a good, impartial review.”

Gilligan already has one major disciplinary action on his record, a 30-day suspension in 2005 for an inappropriate relationship with a married assistant clerk magistrate at Salem District Court while he was working there as the police prosecutor. Former Chief Robert St. Pierre handed down that monthlong suspension.

The newest investigation will be led by Robert Pomeroy, a Plymouth attorney and former police chief who specializes in municipal and police investigations. His name should be familiar to North Shore residents: In 2008, Pomeroy led an investigation into misconduct in the Hamilton Police Department. Pomeroy’s report was no whitewash — it led to widespread changes in that troubled department.

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