In an effort to answer some misconceptions and concerns vocalized by the residents of Gloucester over the recent departure of the former police chief, the city has created a FAQ document to help provide insights and answers:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Departure of former Chief Leonard Campanello
- Q: Why have the details of investigations around the police department not been issued to the public?
- A: The administration fully believes in transparency and accountability, period. When rumors and allegations are issued against public officials, they are taken seriously but handled professionally to ensure that we are not spreading lies or creating a dangerous and slanderous precedent which could ruin a person’s life or career. If any allegation proves to be true, however, we provide swift disciplinary actions with oversight from our HR and legal teams. We will always support fair due process and that will remain our standard policy.
- Q: Are all the investigations over now?
- A: No. Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI) will continue their audit and review of the entire Gloucester Police Department to analyze and determine where improvements need to be made through their professional assessment systems.
- Q: Did the mayor move to terminate Campanello earlier in the week because he was caught lying about his phone during his investigation?
- A: Yes. Allegations were made against the former chief which led to the launch of an investigation on Campanello. During this investigation, the former chief’s phone contained critical evidence which he destroyed and he later sent anonymously to his own attorney. The Essex District Attorney’s Office was able to determine that Campanello lied about not knowing where his public cell phone was or how it ultimately arrived with his lawyer, as he was seen on surveillance tape mailing the envelope through DA Blodgett’s resources.
- Q: Why is Gloucester paying Campanello anything if we moved to terminate him, especially if he was caught lying?
- A: Campanello’s contract signed in 2014, by former Mayor Kirk, contained unusual clauses providing the former chief with the ability to legally fight the city and appeal all disciplinary decisions, creating a strain on city resources, budget, expenses, and staff time. Additionally, Campanello’s contract contained a clause that any termination notice requires at least thirty days’ notice, even with cause or criminal activity. Another clause provided the former chief the ability to get three months’ salary regardless of any termination decision. So whether one side calls this a termination or another side calls it retirement, the end results for final payout are nearly equal, except a true termination would be more timely, costly and continue to draw negative media attention.
- Q: Will there be any other legal action taken against Campanello?
- A: In order to move the city forward, it was decided it was in the collective best interest to resolve this matter efficiently, and we have done so. Any comments or questions around further legal action taken by the District Attorney’s office, or other parties, will not be addressed through our offices.
- Q: Is this really a savings for the city considering how much we are paying out?
- A: Yes. Campanello’s unusually strong contract signed by the last administration ensured that whether he was terminated with cause or retired on his own, he would essentially receive the same benefit. Additionally, by resolving this matter now with the former Chief, we save on legal fees- both actual and potential, as well as halt other grievances filed against the chief. Campanello’s pension will be primarily funded through his decades of service while in Saugus and other communities, as the former Chief only served in our City for a few years, thus our pension commitments are as minimal as contractually possible. Our HR, legal and budgetary teams agreed that the ultimate arrangement finalized with Campanello provided the City the least costly option, in every sense of the phrasing.
- Q: Do you have confidence in our police department considering all the rumors?
- A: We believe in due process, and allegations will always be taken seriously. For that very reason, we have retained MRI to offer our city a fair, unbiased assessment to determine how to best improve our police department. If we find any violations of our municipal policies in any capacity, we will enact swift disciplinary measures up to and including terminations. All the same, citizens in Gloucester can be assured that our public safety teams are committed to performing their duties to best protect and serve us all, as declared during their oath of office.
- Q: What did the city give up as a result of this resolution?
- A: We gave up nothing. The chief has a legal right to retire at any time, and we were moving toward a termination hearing. When he chose to retire, he voluntarily waived his contractual right to a hearing. The former chief’s contract ensured the same payouts no matter the scenario or headlines suggesting a different strategy was taken.
- Q: I have something I would like to report, but am afraid of contacting the police. What should I do?
- A: The Gloucester Police Department is prepared to take any and all complaints, as obligated by their service. Additionally, the Essex District Attorney’s office has various tools to assist potential victims, including “Victim & Witness Assistance” services seen at this link (http://www.mass.gov/essexda/victim-assistance/) or by calling direct at: 978-745-6610
- Q: How does the city move on now with so many questions still lingering?
- A: By wrapping up these dealings with the former chief, we can showcase our true community values. We have a new Harbormaster busy creating new moorings and providing new revenues, a public health team helping provide resources for all people for all needs, a community development team that just finalized the Fuller School property deal, an evolving and growing downtown featuring new stores, restaurants and now the beautiful Beauport Hotel – our city has plenty to work on and our focus on results is what the citizens demand and deserve.
- Q: I heard a rumor on Facebook that…
- A: All rumors are just that: rumors. We will not comment on hearsay or other potentially slanderous claims unless they have genuine validity and can showcase legitimate testimony, evidence or specific examples to support a claim. Fake names on Facebook or Twitter who spread claims should not be engaged with or shared, as the spread of misinformation will only worsen as a result. We hope that any party hiding behind a fake name or alias – for whatever reason they are doing that – will consider identifying themselves, supporting their claims clearly and work with the appropriate authorities direct to help affect positive change, and not continue online harassment or mud-slinging. Our city has received allegations from various sources and our audits are ongoing to help determine the truth in all situations. If you’d like to report something confidentially, Gloucester Human Resources / Personnel Department can help take your claim and will protect your privacy. Additionally, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is free and confidential. They can connect you with local programs and national resources that may be able to help you, whether related to domestic violence or otherwise. To reach the hotline, call 1-800-799-7233. It is available 24 hours a day.
- Q: Will the mayor give the public answers or provide a forum to express our input?
- A: The mayor absolutely wants to provide answers, but she also wants to provide accountable and correct answers, too. Finalized audits through our expert partners will help provide clear and professional answers which will be shared with the public when completed. The mayor remains committed to her open door policy and interested parties can schedule a meeting with her direct using this contact form and a staff member will coordinate schedules thereafter. The mayor’s goal remains to provide the best services to the citizens of Gloucester and her office always welcomes insights – whether critical or supportive – but asks that you remain patient while we conduct thorough and complete audits. Sharing any results from these audits in advance would potentially jeopardize the integrity of any investigation and may violate legal and personnel agreements, too.
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken reaffirms that all decisions made by the administration is designed to best support the Gloucester citizens every day. By advocating and fighting for those in need, the mayor is committed to providing the leadership necessary to move beyond this unfortunate situation. The actions recently taken by our administration is not a change of heart or a reversal of any sort. Rather, it is a continuation of the mayor’s promise to always put people first while remaining decisive. The mayor understands your concerns and shares many of your sentiments, yet we must move forward, together. Thanks to everyone in Gloucester for the continued patience and support.
Have other questions you’d like answered? Please send your remarks to the city using this submission form and staff will do their best to get answers.
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