Newton, often billed as one of the safest cities in America, fired its police chief Thursday for “conduct unbecoming” after an investigation found that he made boorish and inappropriate comments to women on the force.
Mayor Setti Warren notified Chief Matthew Cummings that he had been fired following a six-hour dismissal hearing Wednesday. Cummings had been chief since 2009, but was with the department for more than 30 years. He earned a salary of $168,737 last year.
“Chief Cummings has irreparably compromised his ability to satisfactorily perform the services required of him as police chief,” hearing officer Bob Rooney, who is also the city’s chief operating officer, stated in his findings.
Cummings was placed on administrative leave in late August after an investigation commissioned by the city concluded that he told his former secretary she looked like a “whore” and called her a “bitch.” Cummings also upset a pregnant police officer by telling her, “You’re almost as fat as I am.”
In addition, he kicked a shoe off his secretary’s foot, causing a cut on her heel that required a Band-aid, according to the investigator.
Cummings’s lawyer, Timothy Burke, said the termination was expected and that he would take the case to arbitration. “It was a fait accompli,” Burke said. “Chief Cummings, despite these allegations, has a commendable record.”
Cummings did not testify on his own behalf during the hearing, which Rooney took as a mark against him. During the hearing on Wednesday, in a room filled with Cummings’s supporters, Burke questioned the former secretary’s credibility and motives.
Cummings had no previous history of using derogatory language with women in the workplace, and he previously headed the traffic control division, which is staffed primarily by women, Burke said.
The secretary, Jeanne Sweeney Mooney, is charged with larceny in Framingham District Court. She pleaded not guilty. Police allege that Mooney took an envelope containing $660 cash collected through various police permit fees. She is also accused of destroying nearly $1,500 in checks and a schedule of the payments. Mooney has been on paid administrative leave for about a year.
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