NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 11, 2014

Costs pile up to cover debarred officers' shifts

SEABROOK — The allegations of police brutality against three local officers are costing the town more than embarrassment.

It’s been more than two months since the YouTube posting of a Nov. 11, 2009, Seabrook police station video hit the web, showing three officers mistreating then 19-year old arrestee and resident Michael Bergeron inside a hallway at the police station.

Bursting on the web and news reports in early January, the video brought allegations of police brutality against the three local officers, resulting in state and federal authorities announcing investigations into the incident and the officers being placed on paid administrative leave. Since then, police have spent over $18,000 covering their shifts.

According to Seabrook Town Manager Bill Manzi, he has not been informed as to how long the investigations being conducted by the state Attorney General and Federal Bureau of Investigation are expected to take. Both agencies are interviewing local officers off site, he said, and so far no Seabrook officer has refused to be interviewed, although it is their right to do so.

But while local officials and others await the results of the investigations, which could bring criminal charges from the AG’s office as well as charges of civil rights violations from the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire, the three officers involved are collecting paychecks, and others have to cover their shifts.

On paid leave are officers Keith Dietenhofer, Adam Laurent and Mark Richardson, who last year earned a combined total of $149,312 in straight salaries between the three of them, according to Seabrook’s 2013 Annual Report; or about $12,442 per month for the three. The amount does not include the cost of their employee benefits nor the amount they earned last year in overtime or private detail work, the latter not paid from taxpayer dollars.

Manzi said that in the roughly two months since the officers were placed on leave, the police department paid $18,854 in overtime to full-time Seabrook officers who covered their shifts.

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