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Investigations detail violations by ex-head of detectives



@ecutts_HG
Friday, January 19, 2018

NORTHAMTPON — The former head of the Northampton Police Department’s detective bureau who mishandled contents of the drug drop box also ran afoul of workplace rules by using his city vehicle for personal trips and treating subordinates with undue harshness, internal investigative reports show.

Northampton Police Lt. Alan Borowski was placed on paid administrative leave for two months beginning in September after the department received an anonymous complaint alleging he violated the department’s drug drop box policy by removing pills without another officer present, as well as an allegation that he may have been using steroids, according to documents obtained through a public records request by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.   

An outside investigator found no evidence to support the allegation of steroid use, the records show. However, APD Management Inc., a Tewskbury firm hired by the city to conduct an independent inquiry, found the lieutenant violated not only the drug box policy but also failed to inform Police Chief Jody Kasper or other superiors that he had authorized an investigation into the pills and violated the chain of custody procedure in the way that he handled and documented the handling of the pills.

In addition, a separate internal investigation found that Borowski violated several other workplace policies.

Borowski declined to comment on the investigations when contacted by the Gazette this week. However, he said a grievance has been filed on his behalf by the New England Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents Northampton Police sergeants and lieutenants. The department’s union representative did not comment.

Chief Kasper declined to comment on the grievance. “I don’t make statements about the grievance process,” she said.

The department initially denied the Gazette’s request for the investigative reports. However, it released the reports earlier this month after the Gazette filed an appeal with the state’s supervisor of records, which ruled in the newspaper’s favor.

In addition to the report by the outside investigator, the Gazette reviewed the results of a separate, internal investigation conducted by Northampton Police Capt. Dorothy Clayton, which found other violations of department policy. Some details in both reports are redacted, including the names of civilian witnesses.

Investigation begins

On Aug. 14, 2017, the department received an envelope with an unsigned, typed letter alleging Borowski mishandled drugs and was personally using illegal, non-prescribed steroids. On Aug. 30, the department requested the assistance of APD Management, a firm that conducts internal and special investigations, training and integrity checks for police departments. Borowski was first interviewed by an investigator with the firm on Sept. 18, the day he was placed on administrative leave.  

“In this case, there was a possibility that our detective lieutenant was taking drugs out of the drug drop box, which would be a crime, so when it rises to a level like that, that is where we opted to use an outside person,” Kasper said in an interview with the Gazette.  

Borowski was placed on paid leave after he was first interviewed by the investigator and remained on paid leave for two months followed by five days of unpaid leave before returning to work in November. Borowski returned to the force in November as a patrol lieutenant, which Kasper said was not a demotion. “He was a lieutenant and remains a lieutenant,” she wrote in an October email to the Gazette.

Through interviews with nine officers and three civilians, an investigator learned that Borowski was approached by a person who lived outside of Northampton and asked about disposing of Oxycodone pills. The individual involved was an acquaintance of Borowski, according to the report, and asked Borowski whether he would talk to another person who may have been abusing the drugs.

When that person came to the department to deposit the pills in the drop box, he was uncomfortable asking an officer to unlock the box and instead went to Borowski, according to the investigation. Borowski took custody of the pills, told that person he would speak to the second man about his drug abuse problem and put them in the drop box “sometime” after they were brought in, according to the report.

Following a conversation with a detective in the department, Borowski told the investigator he believed the pills were not needed as part of a drug investigation. The report states that Borowski told the investigator that Oxycodone pills of a similar type were being distributed in the Northampton area and were causing overdoses due to the potency of the drug, according to the report.

“However, Lieutenant Borowski reported that he later learned the Oxycodone pills should have been retained as evidence and should not have been placed in the drug drop box for destruction. Consequently, Lieutenant Borowski reported that he then obtained a key and opened the drug drop box and retrieved the Oxycodone pills,” according to an investigator’s report.

He then placed them into evidence, the investigator found.

Borowski initially told the investigator he had never emptied the drug drop box in the lobby without another officer present but later confirmed that he had in this case. A detective within the department was “adamant he was present at that time and has a very clear memory of the incident.”

The investigator noted that it was not the act of placing and subsequently retrieving the pills that violated the Northampton Police policy.

“Rather, it was the manner in which same was accomplished and thus the violation is narrowly limited to a failure to comply with the documentation and other above stated requirements of the NPD Drug Drop Box Policy,” the investigator wrote.

Department policy requires that two police officers, one of them being a supervisor, be present when contents of the drug box are removed and that a detailed journal be maintained chronicling when the box is emptied and by whom.

The report does not state what became of the investigation Borowski authorized “into activities of his personal friends and acquaintances,” but the fact that Borowski did not inform a superior of that activity was a violation of a department policy.

Workplace violations

During the course of the APD Management investigation, Kasper learned of additional alleged violations of department rules and regulations from several Police Department employees.

In all, 10 allegations — involving discourtesy, false information on records, use of department vehicles, transporting citizens, feigning illness, adherence to outside detail guidelines, conduct unbecoming an officer or employee, personal business, incompetence, and civility — were investigated by Clayton.

She found insufficient evidence to support half of them, but found that Borowski had violated department rules in five cases.

Twelve officers were interviewed as part of Clayton’s investigation, as well as two civilians. During those interviews, it was reported that Borowski “lost his temper and made inappropriate comments and interactions that caused undue stress.” He was found to have violated the department’s discourtesy policy.

In one such incident, Borowski was reported to have “ ‘plowed’ through the Detective Bureau yelling ‘I don’t want to hear about anyone’s (expletive) child care,’” according to Clayton’s report. When asked about the incident, Borowski said he was speaking with detectives to ensure they had a backup plan if they were called in.

Another violation related to reporting false information about the hours he worked, which Clayton found were not accurately reflected on rosters he submitted. The violations come from Borowski reporting working eight straight hours when in fact he went to an appointment during that time. Using key card entry records for both the building and the parking lot, Clayton determined that on most occasions Borowski made up the time.

The lieutenant was also found to have violated the department’s rules on departmental vehicles, which should be used only on police business. Borowski admitted to using his cruiser on weekends to “pop into town to do a roster, get gas and go to the gym,” according to Clayton’s report. He also said he would stop into the detective bureau to see what “his guys were doing” and added that a handful of times he stopped in town to get dinner. Borowski was also found to have transported citizens in police cruisers — he admitted “one time he drove his girlfriend to dinner in his cruiser while off duty. He thought he drove the cruiser because there was no coverage” in the detective bureau. 

Clayton also found there was evidence that Borowski had feigned illness. It is not clear in the report how many times that occurred and Clayton investigated several different allegations, including one that he called in sick to mow lawns.

On one occasion, an officer stated that he saw a photograph that showed Borowski’s truck parked at the Oxbow and his boat slip empty on a day he had called out sick. “When interviewed, Borowski thought he had called out 2-4 times this summer (2017) but indicated he (words redacted) or perhaps (redacted). He added he did go out on his boat one time while on a sick day when his girlfriend got out of work at 3 p.m.,” Clayton wrote.

Allegations of violations of policies on adherence to outside detail guidelines, conduct unbecoming of an officer, personal business, and incompetence were determined by Clayton to be unfounded. An alleged violation of the department’s civility policy also was unfounded as the reported inappropriate comments and interactions fell under discourtesy.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.