Massachusetts State Police, under fire after a series of scandals, on Tuesday announced reforms aimed at making internal investigations and inspections more efficient.
Colonel Christopher Mason, commander of the State Police, said in a statement that he was creating a new Office of Professional Integrity and Accountability by combining the internal affairs and inspection units.
The new office will have a staff of 20 veteran troopers, each holding the commissioned rank of detective lieutenant under the command of a captain, the department said. The restructured unit will allow troopers to conduct more timely internal investigations into complaints and inspections and ensure adherence to department policies and regulations, the statement said.
The state’s largest law enforcement agency has weathered a series of scandals in recent years, including a probe of widespread payroll fraud, claims of discriminatory hiring practices, and repeated allegations of systemic corruption and coverups. Many of the revelations came from prosecutors, media reports, or other sources — not the department’s internal investigative unit.
Previously, smaller groups of troopers were exclusively assigned to conduct either investigations or staff inspections. But the new OPIA commander will be able to assign troopers to either function as needs arise, the statement said. This is expected to decrease the time needed to complete investigations or inspections.
State Police and the attorney general’s office will also regularly review all new and open internal investigations to determine if they should be referred to prosecutors for potential criminal investigations, the statement said.
“Each of these enhancements to our internal control framework help point the way toward a more efficient and accountable agency and support both the public we serve and the members of the Massachusetts State Police who proudly and professionally fulfill our law enforcement mission,” Mason said in the statement. “We also urge the swift passage of Governor Baker’s pending legislation, which would further increase accountability and enhance the department’s discipline process.”
Over the past two years, the agency has implemented increased ethics training, bias-free policing, enhanced time and attendance rules, supervisory responsibilities, and regular payroll audits, the statement said.
It also has installed automated vehicle locator technology in cruisers, created an early intervention committee, established a body/cruiser camera program expected to roll out in the coming months, and increased the number of personnel assigned to handle trial boards and other disciplinary matters, according to the statement.