Boxford’s Police Problems Start and End with Selectmen – VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL (4-17)
VALLLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
A few months ago The Valley Patriot began to investigate the goings on at the Boxford police station.
Rumors about a department out of control because of a police chief who is “mailing it in” motivated us to start requesting documents.
Instead of cooperating with the press and being transparent by eagerly turning over documents and tape recordings, the Town Administrator Alan Benson chose to involve lawyers who, of course, instructed the town to … obstruct.
They tried to charge the Valley Patriot an exorbitant amount of money for scanner calls, they claimed not to have documents that they had, and when we asked about a troubled dispatcher working for the police dept. we were told that he worked for the communications dept. and the chief had no say over the shenanigans that took place; this included a dispatcher being fired for blowing the whistle to police about another dispatcher’s violent tendencies and physical assaults.
The extreme hostile work environment for everyone involved seemed not to be alarming to any of Boxford’s leaders because the dispatcher, Andrew Ulman, is the son of a former selectman.
The Chief seemed to have a casual attitude about Ulman because the dispatcher wasn’t his legal responsibility. We believe any other police chief in the valley would have acted sooner and been proactive.
DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU
While investigating, the Valley Patriot went to the town website to get phone numbers to question members of the Board of Selectmen about all this.
What we found explained a lot.
None of the publicly elected members of the Boxford Board of Selectmen had their phone numbers or emails listed, meaning members of the public have no way of contacting an actual person. Our sources in Boxford say that it was the selectmen themselves who requested no contact information be listed for them.
That is unacceptable and is a symbol of what is wrong in Boxford. It starts and ends with the elected Board of Selectmen.
Boxford officials are not just lacking in transparency, they are a municipal government thriving on secrecy, hiding behind lawyers, and burying information that they were elected to expose.
NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST
Most troubling of all in our investigation was that we found proof a police lieutenant illegally taped a conversation with a member of the public without her knowledge. This member of the public had filed a complaint against a Boxford officer alleging inappropriate conduct and a personal relationship with that officer while he was on duty. The woman lives in North Andover.
Lt. Hazlewood interviewed the woman as part of his investigations of her complaint. Oddly, the woman recanted her accusation. According to our sources the audio recording of that conversation was then played for the officer she originally complained about.
Why has Lt. Hazlewood not been held accountable? Where was the leadership when all this was going on? The answer we got was that the Lt. has since retired and is “one of the nicest guys ever.” We are told, he is the guy who helps everyone in town, even neighbors he doesn’t get along with.
We were also told that the matter is “being investigated”, but that mysteriously, the woman who initially lodged, then recanted, her complaint against an officer, has also decided not to press any charges or sue the town of Boxford for illegally recording her in her North Andover home.
Make no mistake about it, a crime was committed here. Maybe more than one. And because Lt. Hazlewood is the “nicest guy in the world” he got a free pass. Maybe that’s the universe paying him back for all the good deeds he legitimately served for the people in town.
But now we have to wonder. What else do people in Boxford, (specifically the selectmen in Boxford) overlook when the people involved are considered “really nice guys”.
We’d ask them… but we don’t have their numbers.