What happens when Gloucester police violate department policy, or worse, break the law themselves? What happened, for example, with the mysterious departure of former Chief Leonard Campanello in 2016? He was credibly accused of putting at least two women in fear for their safety, destroying evidence and lying to the Mayor.
When the city’s top law enforcement officer is facing those kinds of charges, the public should be told what happened, and what is being done to keep it from happening again, but for years our city has kept that story tightly under wraps.
Recently however, GoodHarbor.org has obtained copies of key emails, text messages and memoranda that reveal many, if not all, of the troubling details. We will report what we find in those documents here as soon as possible and will post the original documents here as soon as we’re done reviewing them.
Although they are public records, which the law requires the city to produce upon request, getting those documents was not easy.
In February of this year, we filed a formal public records request for all documents the city has that shed light on the Campanello situation. The City's general counsel, Chip Payson, stonewalled. He inititally took the position -- in clear violation of the Massachusetts Public Records Act -- that we would need to pay the city $350 before it would even begin to work on finding or copying any records.
That was the beginning of a protracted fight in which the city, through Chip Payson, took several obstructionist positions plainly contrary to law in an effort to keep the facts of the Campanello affair hidden from public view.
For example, Payson asserted attorney-client privilege over documents that clearly were not covered by that privilege. He also bizarrely asserted that documents relating to Campanello's firing "did not involve law enforcement misconduct" (and therefore are public records the city must copy and provide on request) but instead involved only a "personnel matter" (which, if not also relating to police misconduct, would be protected under the Public Records Act). Payson’s claim that documents relating to Campanello’s firing “did not involve law enforcement misconduct” was particularly outrageous in light of the fact that when Campanello was fired, the city itself publicly announced that the chief was being fired because, as the city's top law enforcement officer had had destroyed evidence and lied to the mayor.
We had to appeal to the State Supervisor of Records twice, but finally, over two months since we filed our request, we were finally able to obtain over [a hundred][verify] pages of critical documents.
We're reviewing those records now and will report on them, and post them here as soon as we can.