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Healey calls on Baker to address transparency concerns over State Police records

Attorney General Maura Healey is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to take more leadership in addressing State Police transparency concerns.
Attorney General Maura Healey is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to take more leadership in addressing State Police transparency concerns.Steven Senne/Associated Press/File 2017

Attorney General Maura Healey is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to take more leadership in addressing transparency concerns raised in the wake of revelations that payroll records for an entire State Police division were not disclosed for years.

“It’s time that the Baker administration take a leadership role on this issue,” Healey told reporters Thursday. “I hope they take these concerns — that are rightly raised — seriously, and move quickly to address these issues. Again, this is about a culture. This is about accountability. This is about transparency. It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be addressed now.”

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Her comments come after a Globe report Monday detailed how neither the State Police nor the Massachusetts Port Authority had publicly filed information on payouts for Troop F, which patrols Logan International Airport and some other areas, with the state comptroller since 2010.

The 140-person Troop F division — which accounted for more than $32.5 million in spending last year alone — has been on the payroll of Massport, an independent public agency that owns and operates Logan, some of the Seaport, and two other airports outside Boston. But the troopers are State Police employees, and the troop’s operations are overseen by State Police commanders.

Baker on Monday said he was shocked to learn the records hadn’t been disclosed, an act he called “clearly deliberate.”

“It’s clear that the State Police is going to have to work back some of that public credibility that’s been sacrificed by some of these really bad actors,” Baker said, adding that his new head of the State Police, Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, has taken steps that “are directly designed to address some of those issues.”

Officials from the State Police and Massport announced Tuesday that in the future, Troop F will be paid directly by State Police, and Massport will reimburse the law enforcement agency in an effort to ensure records are properly disclosed.

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On Thursday, Baker spokesman Brendan Moss said in response to Healey’s comments that “Baker agrees more work remains to strengthen the public’s trust in the department and is working with Colonel Gilpin as she undertakes a thorough review of the State Police.”

Moss added that Gilpin “continues to review accountability and supervisory policies to determine opportunities to improve the department’s performance.”

On Thursday, Healey’s office said it has been following the Troop F issue. But the attorney general’s comments earlier in the day put the onus on Baker.

“I put this up to the Baker administration to lead on this,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Baker administration to make sure that issues are addressed and problems are fixed.”

Healey’s office is, however, investigating another State Police matter: alleged overtime abuses in Troop E, a division that covers the Massachusetts Turnpike.

“That is a criminal investigation that is ongoing and we’ll continue to be available to take any referrals,” Healey said Thursday.

Earlier this month, State Police announced that, following an internal audit, 20 active troopers and one retiree face sanctions in an overtime abuse scandal in Troop E. The troopers allegedly logged hours they did not work, with some alleged violators putting in for as many as 100 no-show shifts.

Nine of those troopers were suspended without pay, nine more retired, and one was kept on active duty, officials have said. Another trooper had been suspended without pay and was under investigation in another matter prior to the announcement of the internal audit’s results.

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State Police have faced a series of controversies in recent months, including the department’s handling of the arrest of a judge’s daughter — and revelations that the former colonel ordered the scrubbing of the report — which has sparked at least three separate probes.

Even as Healey pressed Baker to address transparency issues, her office is fighting to keep some State Police records hidden from public view.

Healey’s office is working with the State Police to fend off two public records suits brought by the Globe.

In the first case, the State Police denied a request for reports of police caught driving drunk and a judge accused of stealing a $4,000 watch. A superior court judge ruled that the records are public, but Healey’s office has appealed.

In the second case, State Police denied a request for state troopers’ dates of birth. The Globe requested the information in order to look up the driving records of officers who had been involved in crashes. The Registry of Motor Vehicles generally requires both a name and date of birth to look up an individual’s driving record because so many drivers share the same name.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump has also launched an audit into the State Police’s Commonwealth Fusion Center, the department’s antiterrorism data clearinghouse.

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Globe correspondent Matt Stout and Todd Wallack of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.