Gov. Healey is already looking outside the State Police for new leader, she says

The next leader of the scandal-plagued State Police may come from the outside, said Gov. Maura Healey.

Healey, speaking after a semi-regular leadership meeting with state House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka Monday, was responding to questions about whether or not the State Police as an institution is in need of outside intervention.

The questions come after Trooper Michael Proctor admitted on the witness stand last week to “inappropriate” and “regrettable” comments he made via text messages to friends and coworkers during his investigation of Karen Read, who is accused of killing Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe two years ago.

Proctor described Read as a “whack job” and “a babe.” He also used an expletive for female genitalia and texted his sister that “hopefully (Read) kills herself,” according to evidence presented by Read’s defense lawyers. Proctor also commented to colleagues, “No nudes so far,” when searching her phone during the course of the investigation.

After Proctor’s comments became public knowledge, Healey said she was “disgusted.”

“It’s completely unprofessional. It does harm, frankly, to the dignity and the integrity of the work of men and women across the State Police and law enforcement,” Healey said last week. “So as a former attorney general and as governor, I am disgusted by that.”

Asked if this and other scandals — overtime abuse, drunken driving, bribery allegations — demonstrate that the state police are in need of new leadership from outside the agency, Healey said that her search for a permanent state police commander is already the first undertaken by a governor which will consider outside candidates for the job currently occupied by Interim State Police Col. John Mawn Jr..

“We, in fact, have opened it up for the first time ever to consider candidates outside of the Massachusetts State Police,” Healey said.

Mawn has been leading the State Police since Col. Christopher Mason retired in February 2023.

“I guess I want folks to know the following: as governor, and as former attorney general, I want to make sure that we have the very best personnel throughout the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police, that includes the position of Colonel. That’s a process that is underway,” she said.

A six-person search committee is in the process of interviewing finalists for the next colonel of the State Police, according to the Healey administration.

Spilka, when asked if the State Police, as an agency, is broken and in need of a fix, said that she’s happy a search for new leadership is already underway.

“I think that will make a big difference,” she said.

The inappropriate behavior revealed in court is obviously not isolated to the Karen Read case, she said,

“Clearly this has been going on for quite a while,” she said. “I’m glad that there will be some new leadership.”

Dennis Galvin, president of the Massachusetts Association for Professional Law Enforcement, told the Herald that the State Police needs to be reviewed, “stern-to-stern,” by an independent blue ribbon commission appointed by the governor, or placed under mandatory receivership “before someone else does it.”

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