Holyoke auxiliary police chief resigns after traffic stop incident

  • Holyoke Police cars parked at the William S. Taupier Municipal Parking Garage on Division Street. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2021 5:17:41 PM

HOLYOKE — The city’s auxiliary police chief has resigned after an incident in which he was recently pulled over by state police, prompting his resignation, according to a city official.

In a phone interview Monday, acting Mayor Terence Murphy confirmed that Laurence Cournoyer, a longtime Holyoke Police Department officer who rose to the rank of lieutenant before becoming auxiliary chief this year, resigned due to an incident that involved a traffic stop. Murphy said he did not know any more beyond that.

“He resigned for conduct unbecoming — off duty, but still conduct that could not be accepted in terms of maintaining the integrity of the auxiliary police and being the leader of the auxiliary police,” Murphy said.

In an email, Police Capt. Matthew Moriarty offered no further details, stating only that the Massachusetts State Police had pulled Cournoyer over. Efforts to reach Cournoyer were unsuccessful Monday.

Contacted last week, the State Police media relations office said it was unable to find any record of Cournoyer being pulled over. On Monday, however, State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said he was able to get information about the stop.

Procopio said that around 12:20 a.m. on July 29, a trooper stopped a speeding car on Route 391 in Chicopee.

“The Trooper questioned and made observations of the driver who attributed his erratic driving to fatigue from having worked long hours the previous day on a road detail as a Holyoke Police officer,” Procopio wrote in an email. “The Trooper observed no signs of impairment or any other indications that would have established probable cause for further investigation of the driver.”

Based on Cournoyer’s driving record — which Procopio said revealed no speeding violations since 1986 — and his “cooperative and forthcoming demeanor,” the trooper issued him a written warning for speeding, Procopio said.

“Because the operator acknowledged feeling fatigued, the Trooper requested that the duly licensed passenger in the vehicle take over the driving of the vehicle, which the occupants agreed to do, and the passenger drove the vehicle away,” Procopio said.

Cournoyer made the rank of lieutenant before becoming auxiliary chief, also serving as the president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #409 — the Holyoke Police Supervisors Union.

Holyoke’s auxiliary police force is a volunteer, trained and uniformed division of the department. It consists of a police chief, commanders, supervisory officers and more than 70 members, according to the city’s website. Three marked police cruisers are assigned to the division.

Cournoyer was the second-highest paid city employee in Holyoke in 2020, making $261,557 in gross earnings, according to city payroll records.

With a regular salary of $102,927, Cournoyer made another $59,692 in overtime pay in 2020, according to a Gazette analysis, and $42,128 in off-duty pay — road details like the one mentioned in the state police’s statement, for example. The off-duty pay represented the second-highest amount of off-duty hours worked in the entire department that year.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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