By the end of the day Wednesday, State Police brass will be able to track the whereabouts of any trooper assigned to one of the department’s roughly 1,000 marked cruisers.
The announcement that GPS-tracking technology is being brought online Wednesday came a month after Gov. Charlie Baker and State Police Superintendent Col. Kerry Gilpin detailed reforms, including the GPS tracking, in an effort to restore public confidence in an agency that has been beleaguered by one scandal after another in recent months, including the recent revelations that more than 20 troopers apparently put in for overtime shifts they did not work.
Baker’s administration said in what it called a “30-day update” Wednesday that the State Police have also officially eliminated the troop that has been the subject of a probe into potential overtime fraud, and reviewed and made changes to staffing levels for Logan Airport. His office said, “work to implement all reforms is ongoing.”
“Our administration has been working closely with Colonel Gilpin to implement reforms at the State Police to improve public safety and restore the public’s trust in the Department,” Baker said. “While progress has been made to install new technology, eliminate excess overtime shifts and determine the appropriate staffing levels for the Turnpike and Logan Airport, there is much work to be done to improve efficiencies and policies at the State Police.”
The activation of automated vehicle location technology in the State Police’s 1,087 marked cruisers, Baker’s office said, will “enhance officer safety by readily identifying the location of a State Police cruiser to supervisors, and will also assist field commanders in more effectively deploying personnel in critical incidents and emergencies.”
The State Police issued a new policy for the GPS tracking technology Wednesday and is beginning to train commanders, captains and lieutenants to use the tracking software. A plan for installing the same tracking technology in other State Police vehicles is in the works.
“Much work remains to be done, and I am confident we will accomplish our mission of increasing the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of the State Police while further enhancing our capabilities to protect everyone who lives and works in Massachusetts and travels through the Commonwealth,” Gilpin said.
Gilpin announced in late March that an internal audit revealed that taxpayers had covered the unspecified costs of unworked traffic enforcement shifts by troopers. Nine of the 19 State Police members who were to go through hearings in connection with the agency’s probe chose to retire before the hearings and nine others were suspended without pay.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Maura Healey is reviewing information sent over by Gilpin to determine whether any members of Troop E broke the law by accepting overtime payments for shifts they did not work.
Troop E, which had patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike, saw its four barracks absorbed into and its troopers reassigned to the regional troop in which their barracks sits — either Troops B, C or H — effective Wednesday morning. Overtime shifts patrolling the Turnpike will now be available to 786 troopers, the governor’s office said, rather than the pool of 136 former Troop E troopers who could score those coveted assignments.
After studying the staffing levels for Troop F — which covers Massachusetts Port Authority properties like Logan Airport and parts of Boston’s Seaport District — the State Police announced Wednesday that an additional 30 troopers will be shifted to Troop F by May 27, bringing its total roster size to 154. Gilpin said a month ago that Troop F was down 30 bodies, leading to greater rates of overtime.
Indeed, a review of Troop F staffing concluded that “reliance on a high volume of overtime shifts at Troop F is the result of a continuing gap between the number of Troop members budgeted to serve in Troop F and the lower number actually assigned and available for service, and secondly, from additional duties required to address a continuing heightened security status at Logan Airport.”
Baker’s office projected that overtime will be reduced by a net 40,000 hours annually as a result of the 30-trooper increase in Troop F, as long as the increased staffing level is maintained over time.
The State Police also announced Wednesday that Gilpin has assigned six additional troopers to the State Police’s staff inspections section — responsible for making sure troopers adhere to agency policies — and four additional troopers to the internal affairs section, which investigates citizen complaints against members of the State Police.
Baker installed Gilpin as superintendent of the State Police in November after Col. Richard McKeon retired amidst a swirling controversy over the department’s handling of an arrest report for the daughter of a central Massachusetts judge. The State Police last Friday released the report of an independent investigator into the arrest of Alli Bibaud.