This past summer, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis was outraged by the actions of four officers, including three lieutenants, accused of manipulating the detail system to defraud the department. So outraged, in fact, that he began termination proceedings against them, publicly admonished them, and even tried to bring criminal charges.
But this past month, the Phoenix has learned, Davis quietly agreed to impose mere four-month suspensions on two of those officers: Lieutenants Timothy Kervin and Haseeb Hosein. Both will retain their ranks when they return to the force in August.
Lieutenant Ghassoub Frangie, who Davis also tried to fire, took his planned retirement in January without punishment. The fourth, Sergeant Jacqueline Creaven, remains on paid administrative leave, awaiting an outcome.
According to some critics, the four-month suspensions are evidence that Davis is powerless to impose discipline on his officers.
But others say that Davis moved too quickly — and too publicly — against officers who had done nothing serious.
Davis, in statements this past summer to the Boston Globe, on talk radio, and on local TV newscasts, portrayed the officers as engaging in “a scheme involving the detail system” that “will not be tolerated.”
The officers were alleged to have deliberately manipulated the process in order to obtain detail assignments outside of the proper channels — including some during hours when they were on their regular work shifts. Kervin and Hosein were each charged with more than 250 counts, including violations of rules on conduct, truthfulness, conformance to laws, authorized details, assignment, details cards, and acceptance of details.
But the only allegations the department has substantiated, according to BPD spokesperson Elaine Driscoll, were under-reporting of hours, allegedly done to keep under the mandated 90-hour maximum of hours worked per week. (Because union rules require eight hours’ payment for any shift longer than four hours, officers could theoretically under-report hours without losing any pay.) Hosein, in an interview with the Phoenix, denies under-reporting.
The result is a miniscule punishment compared with the firing Davis was seeking. So, did the department let these officers get away with defrauding the city? Or did Davis overreach in publicly demonizing them?
Neither, says Driscoll. She says that the system worked: serious allegations were brought, the department investigated, and sought punishment for the charges they could sustain. “When all was said and done, the commissioner agreed that this was the correct form of discipline,” she says.
But that doesn’t quite gibe with how seriously Davis was treating the case this past year. Even before moving to fire the four officers, the department presented the case to both Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley and US Attorney Michael Sullivan. The BPD wanted criminal conspiracy charges under RICO laws. Neither office took the case.
Whether the accused foursome got off easy or was unfairly besmirched, there was one definite loser: the taxpayer. While the officers sat at home on paid administrative leave for eight months, their shifts have been covered by other officers, mostly on overtime. One source close to the BPD estimates that the affair may have cost the department close to $200,000.