The Massachusetts State Police say they're backing off efforts to destroy years of audit and payroll records.
State police last month sent the secretary of state's office a request to allow for the destruction of 12 boxes of records — including detail assignment and roster assignment payroll records — covering the years 2009-2012 for Troop F based at Logan Airport.
It was the most recent of several requests to destroy years of older payroll records.
A state police spokesman said the records fell within state guidelines for destruction and weren't part of any current outside investigation or audit. Police officials say they now plan to retain the records citing ongoing probes into overtime abuse within the department.
State and federal investigators have charged multiple troopers as part of the investigations.
Democratic Candidate for Governor Jay Gonzalez says it’s outrageous that the state police sent all these payroll and personnel records to be destroyed while a criminal investigation and audit is underway.
And he says the lack of leadership starts at the top: “When is Governor Baker going to get a handle on his state police?”
Gonzalez slammed Republican Gov. Charlie Baker for management failure following a report that state police tried to destroy more than 160 boxes filled with decades worth of documents including payroll and attendance records.
Gonzalez said, “The Colonel should be fired, the Secretary of Public Safety should be fired, the Governor should appoint someone to lead his state police who’s going to root out corruption.”
State police spokesman Dave Procopio said there was nothing nefarious about the requests due to the age of the documents, but said the agency has decided to back off.
"None of the records in question have been destroyed and in light of current ongoing investigations pertaining to similar records, the state police will retain past payroll records until further notice," Procopio said in a statement.
But Gonzalez said Wednesday that the agency was "attempting to cover-up widespread corruption and fraud relating to payroll and overtime payment."
Greg Sullivan is Research Director at the Pioneer Institute and a former Inspector General under Governor’s Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick.
He describes the event as scandalous and agrees that the timing is suspect but disagrees with who is at fault: “I don’t blame Baker. I blame the people at the state police who apparently thought that they would pull a fast one and get rid of the records before the investigation could begin.”
Governor Baker, who ordered the investigation, says there is nothing illegal about destroying those kinds of documents, but given the timing feels what the state police did was a mistake: “I’m glad they didn’t get destroyed. I’m glad there’s a process in place that determines whether or not they are appropriate for that type of thing. That’s a good fail safe.”
Gonzalez again called on Baker to fire his State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin - but Baker says he knows exactly what side of the issue Gilpin is on adding that she has helped the Attorney General and the US Attorney in their investigation of the 46 troopers accused of violating overtime.
While Gonzalez maintains Baker has yet to hold anyone accountable for overtime abuses at the state police, at a debate with Gonzalez on Tuesday, Baker said the administration has responded, including disbanding Troop E, which had been linked to the alleged fraud.
"We discovered it. We pursue it. And we ended it," Baker said.