New Mass. state police leader promises to win public trust
Lt. Col. Christopher Mason said he would oversee internal overtime-abuse investigation, implement ethics training
BOSTON — The next leader of the Massachusetts State Police shared his vision to regain public trust and reform the department Wednesday as he prepares to take over for Col. Kerry Gilpin.
Lt. Col. Christopher Mason promised to see through the ongoing internal investigations into the overtime-abuse scandal to the end, which has embroiled 46 troopers and shaken public confidence in the badge. He spoke of plans to implement additional ethics training in the state police academy, focused on time, attendance and duty to supervise, as a litmus test to ensure troopers in training are morally aligned with the culture of the agency.
“Words are hollow. It’s actions that will move the department forward,” Mason said Wednesday. “We will not tolerate theft from the public or conduct inconsistent with our values. We will strive to ensure that the public receives the quality of services that they have paid for and that they rightly expect.”
Mason, a 26-year veteran of the department, outlined other efforts to improve accountability, diversity and officer safety. Some of those plans include promoting women and people of color into key positions and to expand the state police legal section, which Mason said is “crucial” to his commitment to being more timely and transparent when it comes to more than 2,000 public records requests he said they receive in any given year.
“I am deeply proud of this organization, which is why I embrace an obligation to learn from our mistakes, to correct them and to ensure that they do not occur again,” Mason said. “The public expects and deserves the highest standards from its state police. There is work we must do to close the gap between promise and performance.”
Gov. Charlie Baker tapped Mason to replace Gilpin, effective Friday, after she announced plans to retire from the $200,000-per-year post last week.
“It’s really important — on the issue of restoring trust, turning the page, however you want to call it — that work has got to get completed because I think, for a lot of people, that’s a big hanging question out there,” Baker said. “The colonel has made very clear that he is going to chase that to conclusion, primarily because he believes it’s an important act to take on behalf of the troopers who get up and do things the right way every day.”