NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 7, 2013

A reinstated Thomas ready for patrol this week

After 19 months away from the Salisbury Police Department, 24-year veteran officer Mark Thomas will be back patrolling locals roads starting Wednesday, according to police Chief Tom Fowler.

Following a lengthy appeal through the police union, on Oct. 31, an independent arbitrator ordered Thomas to be rehired after he was fired last Feb. 3 by Town Manager Neil Harrington on two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Ruling he’d been fired “without just cause,” the arbitrator ruled Thomas, 46, get his job back and be made whole for lost wages and benefits.

The town undertook a months-long investigation into Thomas’ behavior, resulting in a 115-page report that Harrington has said led to his actions. The investigation stemmed from allegations that surfaced against Thomas, made by his fellow officers at the Salisbury Police Department. The procedure took place about a year before Fowler took over as Salisbury’s chief.

Fowler said, like any officer who’d been away from police work for more than a year, Thomas has spent the past 40 days since he was reinstated getting up to speed on law enforcement issues he missed during his time away from police work. He also spent 40 hours riding with a department field training officer, Fowler said.

“Any officer separated for 19 months needs to get caught up on training and legal updates, and be firearms qualified again,” Fowler said. “(Thomas) will start on Wednesday. He’ll be on the 3 to 11 shift, our busiest shift; that’s where I need him. Based on the needs of the department, he’ll be on patrol. As I told the selectmen recently, we need more patrolmen.”

Fowler added Thomas’ reinstatement has gone well so far.

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At 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley will hold tryouts for its basketball travel team. All those who love basketball are welcome to attend to try to earn a place on the team. Youth do not have to be members of the club and can be from any town.

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