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Salem Police Chief Remains As Department Overhaul Begins

Matty Ring/Flickr

The town of Salem has hired a “civilian administrator” to oversee ongoing improvements at the Salem Police Department after an audit identified significant problems there.

Brian Patullo, a former Chief of the Andover Police, has taken the new role of civilian administrator, which Town Manager Chris Dillon says will last “until most issues are addressed.”

This comes after an internal audit by the Boston-based company Kroll, which revealedinconsistencies with timekeeping and pay among Salem police who work security shifts known as “outside details” with private businesses.

The audit also found that some complaints into alleged police misconduct “were being handled as informal inquiries, often leading to a limited investigative process that violates a citizen’s due process.”

It recommended that police revamp their process for investigating complaints and improve their internal disciplinary procedures.

The audit also notes that 18 police retired with disability over the last four years, and recommends that the department develop a peer support network and an option of “light duty” assignments for officers.

In a written response to the audit, Chief Paul Donovan wrote that he disagreed with some of the audit’s allegations but would “work with everyone to implement changes.” Other high-ranking police officers criticized the audit on social media.

Chief Donovan was no longer in his office this week. The town manager says Donovan is still the chief but “has taken a step back from day to day operations.”

On Thursday, the Eagle Tribune reported that Donovan and the town had come to a legal agreement over a lawsuit that Donovan lodged against Salem after he was placed on unpaid leave for two days in August.

Dillion said that no police officers have been placed on leave yet as a result of the audit.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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