Waltham Police Chief Trial Delayed; Internal Investigation Plans Halted
Waltham City Councilors denied a funding request that would have paid for an internal affairs investigation of Waltham Police Chief Thomas LaCroix.
MacPherson acknowledged the development during a Monday, Feb. 4 Waltham City Council Finance Committee meeting. LaCroix is facing serious assault charges for allegedly attacking his wife and her friend at their Maynard home in June of 2012. LaCroix is currently on paid leave from the Waltham Police Department.
MacPherson said the trial was delayed because the prosecutor had a scheduling conflict.
Also, the Waltham Police Department has halted its plans for an internal affairs investigation of LaCroix as a result of the Finance Committee denying a $20,000 request to fund it, MacPherson said. Mayor Jeanette McCarthy had requested the money to hire an independent investigator, but the Committee, during its Feb. 4 meeting, shot the request down.
If approved, the money would have been used to hire an independent investigator to conduct an internal affairs investigation of LaCroix, which could have impacted his employment status and result in disciplinary action. MacPherson said he has information that indicates LaCroix broke department rules.
In response to the vote, McCarthy said the outcome of the administrative employment issue regarding LaCroix would be delayed several months. She said she made the request now in order to “piggyback” on any information that could be revealed during the trial.
OPPOSITION TO FUNDING
Several Finance Committee members expressed strong opposition to approving the funding. Committee Chairman Thomas Curtin said an internal affairs investigation was not necessary since the trial could yield information that could be used to settle LaCroix’s personnel issues.
“I think we want to know what rules were broken if that is the scope of the investigation. My only problem with this is spending $20,000 of the taxpayers money when we don’t have to,” Curtin said.
MacPherson called the $20,000 request on the “high side,” to assure the investigator would have proper funding to do a thorough job.
City Councilor Robert Waddick echoed Curtin’s sentiment.
“It’s worth waiting a month [for the trial] and saving $20,000,” Waddick said.
MacPherson said the money was necessary because there was no officer of a higher rank to oversee the investigation of LaCroix. Typically, an officer of a higher rank investigates complaints against other officers. It would be "inappropriate" for lowering ranking officers to investigate their superior officers, MacPherson said.
Committee member Kathy McMenimen supported approving the funds saying the city needed to learn everything possible about the incident.
“I think we need to get at the truth,” she said.
City Councilor Joe Vizard, who is not on the Finance Committee, said denial of the money would stop McCarthy from doing her job.
The acting chief said no other law enforcement agency could perform such an investigation. MacPherson said he even called Massachusetts State Police Col. Timothy Alben to request troopers perform the investigation, but Alben said his agency could not do it.
MacPherson said he had opened an internal affairs file on LaCroix, but had only collected documents from Maynard Police and the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office.
City Councilor Thomas Stanley said he was concerned that an internal affairs investigation had not yet been done. MacPherson said it was not performed earlier because he “didn’t think it was appropriate to investigate somebody who is superior in rank to me.” MacPherson also said he did not want to interfere with the criminal case. However, prosecutors recently told the police department it was OK to proceed with an internal affairs investigation, MacPherson said.
In expressing his concerns to MacPherson, Stanley asked the acting chief, “Is this about the chief or this about something else?”
MacPherson answered, “This is about the chief.”