The Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) review of two Methuen Police Department contracts found a failure of leadership at all levels of city government. The contracts, approved in 2017 by then-Mayor Stephen Zanni and the Methuen City Council, included excessive raises for longtime Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon as well as the department’s sergeants, lieutenants and captains.
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Report OIG Report 2020: Leadership Failures in Methuen Police Contracts
|Organization:||Office of the Inspector General|
|Date published:||December 23, 2020|
|Last updated:||December 23, 2020|
The OIG found:
- Mayor Zanni agreed to unprecedented changes to the contract with the Methuen Police Superior Officers’ Association, New England Police Benevolent Association, Local 17, without understanding their financial impact. Among other things, Mayor Zanni agreed to expand the definition of base pay in a way that would have significantly increased the superior officers’ total compensation.
- The president of the superiors’ union, Captain Gregory Gallant, drafted the final contract and added language that had never been agreed to by City officials. Captain Gallant’s revisions included further expanding the definition of base pay and creating a formula designed to maximize the superior officers’ total compensation. These two changes gave the superior officers raises of 35% to 183%.
- Mayor Zanni signed the final contract without fully reviewing it personally or requesting a thorough review by the city solicitor or city auditor.
- Chief Solomon, who represented the City in contract negotiations with both the superiors’ union and the patrol officers’ union, knew about unapproved compensation language but failed to alert his colleagues on the City’s negotiating team. The unapproved language indirectly – but substantially – increased Chief Solomon’s compensation.
- Mayor Zanni did not exercise due diligence or sound management practices when he negotiated Chief Solomon’s contract extension in 2017. The resulting contract makes Chief Solomon one of the highest-paid police chiefs in the country, earning more than the Massachusetts State Police Colonel and the Boston Police Commissioner. Mayor Zanni also failed to include basic oversight provisions in the contract, and he agreed to provisions that make it both difficult and expensive to discipline or terminate Chief Solomon.
The OIG commended the current mayor, Neil Perry, for taking steps to improve oversight and governance in Methuen.
The OIG recommended that Mayor Perry:
- Exercise due diligence in all contract negotiations.
- Exercise strong oversight of all department heads, including Chief Solomon.
- Evaluate all available avenues of discipline against Chief Solomon and Captain Gallant.