Gloucester Mayor Seeks To Fire Acclaimed Police Chief For Conduct During Probe

In a July 6 file photo, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello talks to media outside the White House. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
In a July 6 file photo, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello talks to media outside the White House. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The mayor of Gloucester is initiating the termination of city police Chief Leonard Campanello's contract for allegedly destroying evidence amid an investigation of misconduct.

Campanello has gained national acclaim for his efforts to combat opioid abuse.

In a news conference Monday, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said that over Labor Day weekend, a woman made "disturbing allegations" against Campanello. The woman said she was concerned for her safety, the mayor said.

The city then began an investigation and Campanello voluntarily turned over hundreds of pages of communications with the woman — but they were not all of the communications, the mayor said.

"The Mayor believes the Chief had tampered with evidence, specifically with respect to his city issued cell phone, which contained critical information concerning these allegations," Theken's office said in a statement.

The cellphone was not in Campanello's office, as he had claimed. The phone was then reset, its contents erased, and mailed anonymously to Campanello's lawyer, Terrence Kennedy.

The chief suggested to investigators that someone within the department might have removed the phone without his permission, but, the mayor's office said in its statement, "The results of the investigation into the envelope received by Terrence Kennedy shows that it was Chief Campanello himself who mailed the package from the Everett Post Office."

Mayor Theken called Campanello's actions "unethical and unacceptable."

"It's for these reasons I've determined the Gloucester Police Department needs a change of leadership," she said.

Kennedy said a statement that the investigation "has been a witch-hunt from the beginning" and the termination was in violation of Campanello’s contract.

Leonard Kesten -- a special counsel for Gloucester, who appeared with the mayor at the news conference — would not discuss the nature of the relationship between the woman and the chief.

The chief was placed on leave earlier this month.

Monday's statement said: "As required by his contract, Campanello will be afforded an opportunity to present evidence at a hearing to be scheduled in the near future."

Campanello was honored in Washington in April as a "Champion of Change" for his work developing the so-called "Angel program," which seeks to help those struggling with addiction instead of incarcerating them.

Under the program, addicts can walk into the police station with drug paraphernalia and ask for help without fear of facing criminal charges.

On Monday, Theken said the program continues.

With reporting by WBUR's Benjamin Swasey and The Associated Press

This article was originally published on October 03, 2016.



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