Apr 192014

Groton has hired a private investigator, but the town is being tight lipped about who or what is being investigated.

Statements by several anonymous town sources were similar, that the investigator was to look into allegations of harassment of call firefighters or emergency medical technicians by paid full time firefighters — the fire department’s officers. The investigation reportedly has concluded; if it has, the Board of Selectmen would take the next actions unless the Personnel Board has been asked to become involved. A closed executive session is on the agenda for the BoS’s coming meeting on Tuesday night, April 22, “To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition of mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or discuss the discipline or dismissal, or complaints or charges against, a public officer, employee, staff member of [sic] individual.”

It is possible the investigation is more far-reaching, or more serious, than that and may involve a criminal investigation.

The Groton Line filed a Public Information Request on March 20, seeking town documents related to the investigation, including the contract with the investigator. The PIR was denied the following week, and no documents related to the hiring of the investigator have been released by the town. The reason for denial, implies a more serious problem. The denial stipulates that no documents will be provided because they are:

“Investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officials the disclosure of which materials would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest.”

Asked to confirm and clarify the reason for denial, Town Clerk Michael Bouchard, the town’s public information officer, said that an attorney at Kopelman and Paige, the town’s municipal law firm, told him that “We don’t have to reply” to any questions about the denial of the PIR, in effect confirming that the matter under investigation is related to law enforcement.

Read or download the denial of The Groton Line’s public information request.

The Lowell Sun reported in 2005 that three female call firefighters resigned from the fire department and one took a leave of absence reportedly because of harassment within the department.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Peter Cunningham denied rumors that Town Manager Mark Haddad was the target of the investigation, stating unequivocally that the matter had nothing to do with Haddad, but wouldn’t comment on any other aspect of the investigation.