Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin may not run a tight ship, but she is tight-lipped when it comes to discussing the problems that plague her department.
And the latest is one for the books. As the Herald’s Rick Sobey reported, State Police trooper Andrew Patterson, 32, is charged with lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct after allegedly exposing himself next to a woman and near kids at a June 21 Luke Bryan concert at Gillette Stadium. He’s also alleged to have punched her boyfriend in the face. The officer had backup — his friend and fellow trooper Stephen Thomson flashed a badge to the boyfriend and said he was “in big trouble now,” according to the Foxboro police report. Patterson is on paid leave.
If true, this is beyond the pale, and such a criminal charge against a member of her department would surely compel Gilpin to address it publicly.
Gilpin refused repeated requests for interviews about the ongoing scandals at the department, as the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reported. State Police spokesman David Procopio did say in a statement that the colonel is “implementing wide-ranging reforms to strengthen the Department’s systems of accountability and supervision.”
With all due respect, those wide-ranging reforms may need some tweaking. Since Gilpin’s appointment in November 2017, K-9 trooper Leigha Genduso was issued a dishonorable discharge in August 2018 after details about her past involvement in a marijuana trafficking operation came to light; over 40 troopers have faced scrutiny in an ongoing overtime-abuse scandal, leading to the dismantling of Troop E; Trooper Matthew Sheehan is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the shooting of a Cape Verdean man during a February 2018 highway incident and former State Trooper Matthew Hickey is facing assault charges, accused of stomping on a woman’s shin outside a Dorchester bar on Dec. 1, 2018, shattering her tibia.
While it’s laudable that Gilpin oversaw and expanded a state investigation into overtime abuse, it was the state police — under her aegis — that destroyed all its payroll records, as the probe was ongoing.
That doesn’t inspire confidence in one’s leadership.
But it is par for the course in Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.
Baker was just fine with the Mass. DOT withholding more than 50,000 documents during an audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and he’s just fine with the job Col. Gilpin’s doing, silence and all.
Baker called the allegations against trooper Patterson “gross and disturbing,” but when asked if Gilpin was doing enough to restore discipline and improve the public trust in her agency, said Gilpin was taking the necessary steps.
“I do think that at the end of the day, we all get judged by the work that we do,” Baker said. “She is the one who expanded the investigation into Troop E. She is the one who abolished Troop E,” Baker said.
Yes, we do get judged by the work we do, and when you step in to lead a department beset by scandal, you can expect to be judged by scandals that happen under your watch.
The public needs, and deserves, to hear from Gilpin — what’s happening and what is she doing about it? That’s infinitely better than waiting for the next shoe to drop.