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Select Board to hold off on potential town investigation of HPD Chief Bennett until DA probe is completed

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Featured: News, News, Police & Fire

The Select Board decided in an executive session meeting on Wednesday to cease discussion about a vote for potential investigation into the conduct of Hopkinton Police Chief Joseph Bennett until an ongoing investigation by the Northwestern County District Attorney’s Office is completed. [Editor’s note: This sentence, as well as the headline, have been clarified to indicate no decision had been made by the Select Board to investigate Bennett. While the idea was suggested, no vote was taken.]

In a statement released Friday, the Select Board confirmed that it met in executive session to discuss Bennett, who was present with his attorney.

“During that session, the Select Board took no action or vote on the matter,” according to the statement. “The Select Board chose this course of action due to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office announcement that it is undertaking a review of the events at issue and that it is targeting the release of a report with findings in early May.

“The District Attorney’s Office has requested that the town refrain from conducting its own investigation until such time as that review concludes,” it continued. “The Select Board will respect that request. It will refrain from any investigation or from drawing any conclusions about the nature of the error, or who may have been responsible, until after it has the benefit of those independent findings. The Select Board will review the report promptly after it is released and act accordingly at that time.”

Bennett has been accused of releasing a link to an improperly redacted version of the Kroll report on the HPD blog in response to the initial Loudermill hearing regarding the termination of former HPD Sgt. Tim Brennan. This document released contained the first name and other identifying information about a woman who alleged she was raped as a Hopkinton High School student by former HPD Deputy Chief John “Jay” Porter, compromising her anonymity. Porter pleaded not guilty to three counts of child rape in May 2023.

At the Feb. 27 Select Board meeting, chair Muriel Kramer blasted the chief’s performance and called for an independent investigation into what she called his lack of leadership during his tenure as chief. She called out his inability to seek a lieutenant since the position became vacant in October 2021 and failure to provide requested documents to the Select Board. The lack of leadership in key HPD roles led to the postponement of the department’s state accreditation process, she added.

1 Comment

  1. Ruth Ava

    He still should be investigated for his leadership abilities. I agree they should wait until the investigation is over for the criminal matter. But that does not mean his leadership qualities shouldn’t come in to question. What is is this Town afraid of? Do you know how many good officers we have that can be promoted?

    Reply

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