HomeNewsSix Sergeants send Letter of No Confidence to Police Chief

Six Sergeants send Letter of No Confidence to Police Chief

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At the Select Board meeting on Tuesday night, Chair Muriel Kramer performed an autopsy on Joseph Bennett’s tenure as the Hopkinton Chief of Police. She lodged several complaints during his performance review, including his failure to hire for vacant positions and the lack of meaningful progress on officer drug testing and body-worn cameras.

Kramer also disclosed that in August 2023 she, the town manager, and town’s attorney were made aware that the chief had received a letter expressing “concern or no confidence” signed by all of his sergeants in the April 2023 time frame. “You were asked to produce the letter at that time but we have not seen it.”

This is the Sergeant’s letter, reprinted without redaction.


To: Chief Joseph Bennett
From: The Sergeants
Subject: Promotional Process
Date: 4-26-2023

Chief, we, as a group of six, have met and discussed the state of the leadership of the Hopkinton Police Department. We are your eyes and ears on the ground. We hear what people talk about, complain about, praise, and despise about the Department. We are starting to hear peoples’ displeasure with the lack of movement in the ranks. Along with the displeasure comes people’s desire to leave and seek employment elsewhere because those other departments have movement in the ranks when openings occur. We feel that the taxpayers deserve to have a fully functioning and operating Police Department with open positions filed, people promoted and mentored, and not just vision and empty promises of what the future could be. We have all heard you say you are building a team and we should get on board. You have said to patrol officers that you are happy to be a part of building something. Your vision is respectable, but in 3 years as Chief you have promoted one person, had a test for sergeant, and been unable to fill vacant patrol positions above minimum manning. During this time, 14 officers have left the department, including 2 retirements. As a group of Sergeants, we can no longer support being tasked with the duties of a Lieutenant or Deputy Chief given the lack of demonstrated leadership, and as of June 15, 2023 will begin working within what is required in our contract.

In May of 2020 you stated in a staff meeting that you were going to move rapidly to fill the vacant administrative position. In October 2020 Lt. Porter was out sick with a brain infection. The Sergeants filled in doing the majority of his administrative duties and getting the Department to achieve to an acceptable level. In October of 2021 you promoted Lt. Porter to Deputy Chief. This was the only promotion you have made. The sergeant position is a patrol supervisor position and many of the sergeants are acting far outside the realm of their responsibility. You stated that you are doing so to give the sergeants opportunity but in reality we are filling holes that should be filled by lieutenants and a deputy chief. In August of 2022 Deputy Porter was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. We are now in April of 2023 and still no movement to promote and fil vacancies from within the ranks.

On December 6, 2022 you went before the Select Board and proposed a new organizational structure for the Police Department. You based the new structure on increased needs like social media, body worn cameras, the Town and Department workload growing (mostly due to accreditation and POST), as well as wanting to offer opportunity, staff development, succession planning, advancement and teamwork. You stated that you would promote two sergeants in 60 days, have a sergeant exam in 120 days, promote a lieutenant in 145 days and promote another sergeant in 145 days. You stated you wanted to promote from the bottom up which is not the normal promotional process practiced in all other departments, but rather from the top down. Since it is both promotions and appointments to specialty sergeant positions, you could potentially have a sergeant that would seek appointment to a specialty sergeant position and then a lieutenant’s position because s/he would not be guaranteed the lieutenant’s position and wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to serve in one of the specialty sergeant’s position. May 6th will be approximately 150 days and still no movement or promotions, no job postings, no announcement of a test, and we still sit stagnate as an agency. In fact, had you promoted a lieutenant, you would have assistance in doing many of these tasks and thus moving the Department forward.

As a group, we, the sergeants, are frustrated with the lack of leadership and request you promote a lieutenant (or two) to assist you with running the Department, meeting Accreditation standards, meeting POST standards, and furthering the Department in the method it should be run with movement and not promises. We do not want another mass exodus from the Department like occurred in late 2021 into early 2022 as this can be avoided with promotional movement being one of the major components. However, you have hinted towards promoting a detective directly to Detective Sergeant and an SRO to SRO Sergeant. We believe this move would destroy morale at both the patrol and sergeant ranks and do far more harm to the Department than good. We fail to see the thought process that we can train a patrol officer to be a detective or SRO but we can’t train a patrol sergeant to be an SRO or detective sergeant.

As of July 1, 2023, the sergeants will begin to work within the CBA language and tasks and duties. Under Article 3 Management Rights, you have tremendous leeway to assign tasks to any employee. However, we feel we are doing many tasks like hiring, accreditation, budgeting, payroll, leading field training, fleet maintenance, managing traffic constables and other administrative duties that have and were being done by a lieutenant or deputy chief in the past. We make this request in an effort to better the Department and not harm it.

[SIGNATURE PAGE]

Scott van Raalten, Timothy Brennan, Aaron O’Neil, Matthew McNeil, William Burchard, and Arthur Schofield


Breaking it Down

  • In the opening paragraph, the sergeants express discontent with the lack of meaningful promotion within the department. They also note that 14 of their fellow officers have departed since he assumed command, with only two of those as a result of retirement. Finally, they complain that they are being tasked with the responsibilities of a Lieutenant and Deputy Chief, but are only contracted (and paid) to work as Sergeants. They draw a line in the sand, notifying the chief that as of June 15, 2023 they will only perform the responsibilities of the role they’ve been hired for.
  • The sergeants note that Jay Porter is the only officer to receive promotion under Bennett’s leadership. Following Porter’s indictment, the sergeants have been forced to take up his responsibilities.
  • The sergeants complain that the chief promised them promotional opportunities but has failed to fulfill on these commitments. Chair Kramer voiced many of the same objections during Bennett’s performance review.
  • The group expresses their frustration with Bennett’s lack of leadership and requests that he promote at least one of them to lieutenant to assist him with running the department. They worry that without this HPD will face another “mass exodus”.

Unanswered Questions

First, it is unclear why the chief has defied the Select Board’s request for the letter.

Second, this letter was signed and delivered to the chief on or around April 26, 2023. Just 15 days later, Sergeant Timothy Brennan was placed on administrative leave, on May 11, 2023.

During his testimony at Brennan’s Loudermill hearing, the chief cited multiple statements made by Brennan during the Kroll investigation, and said that those were the basis for his decision to place Brennan on leave.

But on February 6, 2023, Chief Bennett was also interviewed by the Kroll team. In the transcript (which has yet to be made public), Bennett says that he first learned of the allegations against Porter from Lieutenant Duke Donoghue of the Middlesex County CPAC. The CPAC (Crime Prevention and Control) is a division of the Massachusetts State Police operating under the jurisdiction of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

During a phone call with Donoghue, Bennett sought to clarify how long Brennan had known about the allegations against Porter.

CHIEF BENNETT: In conversations with Duke early on, I asked Duke, I said, “how long has this been going on? How long–I got to know what this — I’m going to ultimately going to have to know what the sergeant knew and what he didn’t know and how long he knew it.” And Lieutenant said “oh, he’s fine. I said, well, that’s kind of my job, to determine if he’s fine or not.” [Duke said] “Now he–you know, he came right to us. Or he referred her right to us.” 

The Kroll report was complete and distributed to Bennett sometime in late February of 2023, and the Middlesex DA and State Police had cleared Brennan as of August 24, 2022. Brennan continued to work throughout that time.

So why did Chief Bennett suddenly place Brennan on leave nine months later?


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5 COMMENTS

  1. If this doesn’t reek of retaliation I don’t know what does….

    Select Board, why on earth was this not brought up at the Loudermill Hearing?

  2. Could someone please list the order of titles given to those in the law enforcement field; titles ranked lowest to highest, for this citizen? Thank you.

  3. The revenge tour. My dear select board. It’s time to own your mistakes. Not only should you fire Bennett. You should bring back Brennan.

  4. Update & Important

    I was informed by one of the 6 today of the following information.

    All 6 Sgts. contributed and agreed on the content. Sgt Brennan was the author and face of the project.

    This is horrible. The select board should suspend this chief immediately. It’s obviously the chief is seeking revenge, at the taxpayers expense.

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