In an effort to crack down on overtime abuse and restore public trust, the Massachusetts State Police will mandate the use of GPS-locator technology in all of its department-issued vehicles to monitor troopers' movements.
The agency will also restructure its barracks to eliminate the troop primarily responsible for patrolling the Mass. Pike — Troop E — and take steps to implement a body camera program.
The changes are among a series of reforms announced Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker and state police Col. Kerry Gilpin, for the scandal-plagued agency.
Turmoil around overtime pay within the state police first came to light on March 20 when Gilpin announced that an internal audit found that more than 20 troopers may have been paid for overtime shifts they did not work.
Many of the troopers linked to questionable overtime reporting were identified as members of Troop E. Its members will be absorbed into regional barracks along the Pike under the new policy changes, allowing for an increase in the number of field supervisors between Troops B, C and H to oversee policing of the highway.
Calling the agency's reputation "tarnished," Baker said during the news conference at the State House that while most troopers "put themselves in harm's way on a regular basis to protect public safety," it is hard to restore public trust in an agency "once it's been bruised." The state's Democratic attorney general, Maura Healey, also has launched a criminal investigation into the possible fraudulent overtime reports.
"To restore transparency and accountability," the Republican governor added in a statement, "our administration has collaborated with the Colonel on these reforms and I look forward to their swift implementation."
A week ago, Baker also expressed outrage after a Boston Globe report revealed that payroll records for Troop F troopers, who police Logan Airport and parts of the Seaport, had not been disclosed to the public since 2010. Baker said he believed the failure to comply with records law was "clearly deliberate."
By July 1, state police officials say members of Troop F will be paid directly by the department, which will then be reimbursed by the Massachusetts Port Authority. Previously, MassPort directly paid those troopers. Gilpin said Monday that state police officials will be launching a 30-day review of Troop F to further analyze its personnel needs. Per the governor's request, a plan for Boston police to work with state police on patrolling areas of the Seaport is in the works.
Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, complained the new policies were rolled out with little input from the union. He strongly suggested that body cameras and vehicle locators should be subject to collective bargaining.
While calling the overtime allegations "embarrassing," he blamed the problems on a tiny portion of the force and said the changes ordered Monday should not amount to a "kneejerk reaction."
"Right now 99 percent of the guys are doing their jobs day in, day out," Pullman said.
An independent auditing firm will also be hired to work with Gilpin and her team as they assess additional changes to the department's overtime policies and record-keeping processes. The colonel also said new positions will be created in the department's staff inspections and internal affairs teams.
With additional reporting from The Associated Press
This article was originally published on April 02, 2018.
This segment aired on April 2, 2018.