By: Brian Genest – Aug. 2022
Have you seen the public records about Tony Archinski’s employment as a Dracut police officer? There’s a good chance you haven’t. And an even better chance he’d like to keep it that way.
Ironically, Archinski brought his conduct into the town spotlight in July: When the Board of Selectmen’s majority let him know why they were going to vote down his proposal for a so-called code of conduct—a bad, political idea that would have polluted town government with more personal politics, new political penalties, and ongoing punitive payback—Archinski bullied two of his female colleagues about their professional careers.
(See: Tony Archinski Should Police His Own Ironic Conduct, The Valley Patriot, July 2022)
Talk about hypocrisy: During a discussion about proper conduct, Archinski raises the private-sector, professional careers of his colleagues while his own public-sector career as a town police officer is currently a matter of public discussion and scrutiny. Worthy scrutiny.
In January, resident Kevin O’Brien submitted a public records request asking for documents related to Archinski’s employment as a police officer. In response, O’Brien got hundreds of pages of documents, which he published online and provided to the media and producers of television shows at Dracut Access Television, including me. Among the public records released from Archinski’s file were internal investigations, disciplinary actions, settlement agreements and other documents.
Many of the documents included redacted information; information about a half-dozen items were withheld entirely. While redactions include the names of victims and witness, as well as other details, the documents tell the story.
In one instance, Archinski was accused of sending an email in 1998 described by Police Chief Peter Bartlett as “offensive and profane.” The email was printed and posted on the bulletin board in the police department and resulted in a complaint against Archinski from a fellow officer, saying it was discriminatory. The documents about the internal investigation, including officer statements, have been produced, but the alleged profane email itself has been withheld.
Other documents released were about two disciplinary issues: violating the police department’s shotgun policy and what is referred to as “The Lo Kai incident,” where Archinski failed to properly handle an assault and battery while working a paid detail.
As a result of the shotgun policy violation in 2004, Archinski received a two-day suspension without pay for insubordination and violating the general orders of the Dracut Police Department. The internal investigation report questioned Archinski’s truthfulness.
Also in 2004, as a result of the “Lo Kai incident,” Archinski received a two-day suspension without pay for failing to properly handle an assault and battery. The internal investigation found four of the allegations in the citizen complaint to either be unfounded or unsustained because of inadequate evidence. However, investigators found the fifth allegation—that Archinski failed to provide any type of medical assistance to the victim of an assault and battery after they had suffered obvious physical injuries—to be valid and supported by sufficient evidence.
In their report, investigators said, “Quite simply put, there was little if any action taken. Lt. Archinski’s failure to address the following constitutes a failure to act appropriately as a police officer in this situation.” The report lists seven issues, including never identifying the suspects or witnesses at the scene, never submitting a report documenting what he observed, never informing police department personnel after his detail was completed that a fight occurred and not taking any type of police action in response to an assault and battery that occurred in his presence.
Investigators said Archinski’s actions demonstrated a total lack of effort to investigate the incident that occurred. “The investigators have concluded that there can be only two reasons for his failure to act. Either he had a desire to protect one or more of the participants from some type of future judicial sanction, or he just simply took a laissez-faire attitude and chose to do nothing in an attempt to shirk work responsibilities,” the report said.
Investigators concluded: “…there is strong and convincing evidence which rises above the threshold of the preponderance of the evidence standard that indicates Lt. Archinski was not truthful when he answered questions posed by the investigators…” during the internal investigation.
Archinski retired from the Dracut Police Department under a 2007 Settlement Agreement with the town. The shotgun policy violation and Lo Kai incident were predominant subjects of that agreement. As part of the agreement, the suspensions for the shotgun policy violation and Lo Kai incident were both rescinded and expunged and Archinski was paid for the four days. In addition, Archinski was appointed to the position of “assistant to the parking clerk” and received $40 per week in special pay, retroactive to July 31, 2007, until he retired on December 31, 2008. It’s unclear what Archinski did to earn the special pay, but it’s clear he padded his pension with it for the last 18 months he was on the town payroll.
What’s likely to be worse for Archinski than what’s been released? What hasn’t been released—yet. O’Brien appealed the town’s decision to redact and withhold information to the state’s public records keeper. Dracut was ordered to provide all documents in un-redacted form, but their release has been delayed for months; O’Brien says he still hasn’t received them. Eventually, he will, and you’ll be able to read all about it right here. Honest.
Brian Genest is the producer and host of Eye On Dracut, winner of the 2022 Hometown Media Award for News.◊