The Massachusetts State Police department announced Monday that it is eliminating Troop E, a standalone section of the department that monitored the Massachusetts Turnpike, after an audit showed disparities between overtime pay and overtime shifts actually worked by those troopers.
Members of Troop E will now be assigned to other regional-based Troops, like B, C, or H, depending on which region each of the four Mass Pike barracks is in.
State police will also develop a body camera program and the GPS locators inside state police cruisers will now all be activated as part of the reforms State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin and Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday.
These changes, announced at a State House press conference, are meant to reform the department after the overtime pay scandal that led to nine Troopers retiring and nine others ordered suspended without pay in the midst of an internal affairs investigation.
“The Massachusetts State Police swore an oath to the citizens of the commonwealth to fulfill their duties with dignity and integrity, and a series of recent incidents has sadly tarnished the department’s trust with the public,” Baker said in a statement. “To restore transparency and accountability, our administration has collaborated with the Colonel on these reforms and I look forward to their swift implementation.”
One reform announced immediately activates the Automated Vehicle Location system, the GPS devices available in all marked cruisers. While this technology has been available in all police cruisers, it has not been activated until now, officials said.
Activating that technology will help to prioritize officer safety as well as track the location of the department’s “assets” and to better deploy resources out in the field.
The department will also develop a body camera program to provide more accountability and accuracy during Trooper interactions with the public. The Boston Police Department has already piloted a body camera program, Baker noted.
Along with the dismantling of Troop E, the specific overtime patrols highlighted in the department’s audit have been cancelled, and a wider review of overtime patrols has been called for.
Over the next 30 days, Gilpin will conduct a study of the patrols and overtime shifts Troopers worked at each of the four Mass Pike barracks. Those findings will help the department detail a new number of patrols to be assigned.
Troop F patroled the Logan Airport, Worcester Airport and Hanscom Airport, and so the department will also review the staffing needs for each of those locations. Baker has asked that state police look into working alongside Boston police when it comes to securing the Seaport District.
The state department’s Staff Inspections section, which is responsible for ensuring department policies and procedures are followed, will now operate on a seven-day schedule, rather than the current five-day weekly schedule. Gilpin also announced ten new Internal Affairs and Staff Inspections assignments.
The vetting process of new recruits will be expanded to include questions on if applicants have ever been involved in any criminal investigation, even if they weren’t charged with a crime. The department is looking into other ways to spot red flags during the background check process.
“These reforms are a product of collaboration between my command staff, the administration, and me, with the shared goal of increasing the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the State Police while further enhancing our capabilities to protect everyone who lives-in, works and travels through our state,” she said in a statement. “I believe these reforms will improve the entire department from top to bottom, and better serve our dedicated troopers and the public. Their implementation will require much planning and hard work. We are committed to that effort.”
In another move to increase transparency, officials announced, the public will have access to Troop assignments and can also view the payroll records for all Troops on the Comptroller’s website.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has received the results of the audit into overtime pay discrepancies and will determine criminal prosecution is warranted.