Police union wants remove chief from drug theft probe

ATTLEBORO, MA &#8211 The city’s police union wants Mayor Kevin Dumas to take the investigation of missing drugs at the police department out of the hands of Chief Kyle Heagney and submit it to a public agency.

The Attleboro Police Association, which represents city police officers, said in a news release that Heagney is too close to the subject of the investigation as a former superior officer.

The union said Heagney “controls” the investigation through a private investigator and that only by the chief submitting to questioning from an outside agency can the probe be complete.

“It would be unethical and impracticable for Chief Heagney to direct an investigation that includes himself as a subject,” the letter said. “In order to ensure that this investigation is thorough and fair, it must be transferred immediately to an outside, public investigatory agency unaffiliated with the City of Attleboro.”

In a response dated Jan. 13, Dumas contended that city is already doing what the union wants by hiring APD Management, a private police consulting company run by former Tewskbury Police Chief Alfred P. Donovan. APD specializes in internal police investigations, according to its website. “By utilizing this ‘outside investigative agency,’ that has no affiliation with the City of Attleboro or the Attleboro Police Department, we have, in fact, ensured that this investigation is thorough and fair,” Dumas said.

He said Heagney has been “interrogated” under oath by Donovan like other officers and took and passed a polygraph test. Heagney did not invoke constitutional rights or request immunity, Dumas said.

“This is the same process used with members of the Attleboro Police Association,” the mayor said.

The news release said all union members who have been asked have submitted to questioning voluntarily and that one member has taken and passed a lie detector test. The union also objected to Heagney’s reference to a “code of silence” among Attleboro police officers. The mayor stated that Heagney never had a key to the evidence room.

Heagney said he is not an active part of the inquiry, which he said is being undertaken entirely by the outside investigator. He also said he has asked the district attorney and the attorney general’s offices to probe the case.

The chief said he never had a key to the evidence room before being named to his present position. Heagney acknowledged that an audit found drug evidence missing from a holding area at police headquarters last year. The chief told The Sun Chronicle on Monday that he advocates random drug testing for police officers, and would back legislation to make that the law statewide.

The chief said he suspects a “rogue cop,” rather than a systematic theft of drug evidence from within the department.

Union President Jeffrey Peavey, along with Vice President Christopher Ulbrich, Secretary Joseph Ryan and Treasurer Mark Barton signed a letter to Dumas Jan. 9 asking that the probe be removed from Heagney’s direction.

“The Association shares the concerns you and the Chief have voiced regarding the allegations in this case,” the officers wrote. “We do not condone theft of drugs or the use of illegal drugs by our members. We have cooperated fully in the investigation and intend to continue to do so in a manner consistent with our members rights. We have a fundamental interest in reaching the truth in this matter, and preventing unlawful activity from ever taking place at the Attleboro police department.”

The letter said Heagney, who has been either chief or acting chief since November 2010 and previously served as captain, had access to the evidence room during a “significant period of the time frame in which the drugs could have been taken, if not the entire time.”

The chief said that’s not true.

Heagney said he was not given a key to the evidence room during his transition as acting chief “nor have I ever had a reason to have a key.”

The chief also said that, anticipating push-back, he requested and passed a voluntary polygraph test witnessed by the external investigator.

“I did this knowing the union leadership would attack me, and exactly as expected, they have,” Heagney said in a prepared statement.

From The Sun Chronicle.