Today, we are publishing the internal affairs file for Trooper Kenneth Harold of the Massachusetts State Police. The internal affairs file, which was obtained by The Bay State Examiner earlier this year by making a public records request, shows that Harold has been the subject of two internal investigations. You can view the file here (divided into five parts):
- First investigation (2007):
You may remember Kenneth Harold from a video we published earlier this year. Harold is the state trooper who stopped Maya of The Bay State Examiner and threatened to steal her camera when she video-recorded the stop.
The first investigation in Harold's file is from 2007 and was initiated to address "numerous discrepancies in [Harold's] attendance calendar regarding military leave, sick leave and paid details worked." Harold was exonerated of an allegation that he worked paid details while on military leave, but allegations that he worked details while on sick leave, overlapped details with his regular work hours, and failed to properly document his work hours were all sustained.
The second investigation was opened in 2011 and dealt with an allegation that Harold assaulted a firefighter during the power outages after Hurricane Irene. The records indicate that Harold and a firefighter, both of whom were off-duty and out of uniform at the time, saw a downed power line at neighbor's house and stopped to help. Harold took exception to the man, who he did not realize was a firefighter, being there and some sort of confrontation occurred. Based on several witness interviews, the State Police did not sustain the complaint, but did not completely exonerate Harold.
If you look through the reports, you will see a lot of black ink. Reports that summarize or quote from interviews with witnesses tend to look like this, with most of the information removed:
The transcripts of witness interviews are blacked out entirely, including the interviews with Harold:
The State Police even went so far as to redact the Qs and As (which show whether the interviewer or subject is speaking) from many of the pages.
The State Police said that they blacked out all this information to protect the privacy of the witnesses who might not be willing to come forward if their identities were made public, however, it is clear the redactions go well beyond names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other personally identifying information. It's simply not plausible that every single word in every one of the witness interviews could be used to personally identify citizen witnesses, especially since the first investigation did not even involve any citizen witnesses.
As I pointed out in another recent story, these extensive redactions are problematic because the way investigators interview witnesses during police misconduct investigations demonstrates whether or not they take the investigations seriously. In some cases, the investigators ask the police easy questions but grill the complainants and try to undermine their credibility.
I did not challenge the extensive redactions at the time we received Harold's file and the 90-day administrative appeal period has since passed, however, in the future, I plan to appeal all attempts by the State Police to redact entire witness statements.
We hope to get more misconduct-related information released by the State Police in the future.