By Anne O'Connor

aoconnor@nashobavalleyvoice.com

SHIRLEY --The police chief was placed on paid administrative leave Monday during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

The action on Chief Thomas Goulden was taken during what was listed on the Feb. 27 agenda as a discussion of a report.

Selectmen received a complete copy of a report done by Jean Heartl in February on an investigation into the police department in February, said Chairman Rico Cappucci. Prior to the election at the end of January when two selectmen were recalled and replaced, the board had seen only the executive summary of the investigation done in 2016.

"The 29 pages were very disturbing, question mark after question mark," Cappucci, a former police chief in Shirley, said the morning following the meeting.

The executive summary obtained by the Sentinel & Enterprise last year concluded there was sufficient evidence to support former Police Sgt. Alfreda Cromwell's allegations that she was mistreated on multiple occasions by Goulden and other personnel, dating as far back as September 2014.

Goulden was hired in September 2014. In December 2016, after being demoted to patrol officer, Cromwell was fired on Goulden's recommendation.

"The report had a lot in it," said Selectman Holly Haase the next morning. "I believe it needs to be looked into better.


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"There was significant evidence to say that rules and policies in the department had been broken and there was no investigation within the department," she said.

While the investigation is ongoing, the selectmen voted 2 to 1 to put Goulden on paid administrative leave.

"In most instance, the person being investigated is put on administrative leave," Haase said.

"I thought it would be fair to the chief. It's the norm," Cappucci said of his yes vote.

Selectman Jim Wilson, a retired police officer, voted no.

"I felt that the chief should have an opportunity to come in," Wilson said the next day. "He should have had the opportunity to explain to the board.

Goulden was unaware the selectmen were meeting about him.

"I really don't know much about what happened last night," he said. He got a call from Cappucci at 8:45 p.m. telling him he was on leave.

Selectmen put Sgt. Samuel Santiago, one of the two sergeants on the force, in charge of the police department.

"Based on my experience you couldn't have police officers come to work without any leadership," Cappucci said.

An executive session to discuss the leadership of the police department is scheduled for Thursday, March 2.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said she needs to check with town counsel to be sure the topic is something that should be done in executive, not open, session.

Goulden did not make a statement, saying he wanted to check with his lawyer first.

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.