Mass. State Police Chief welcomes videotaping of troopers

WORCESTER, Mass. (State House News Service) – Recounting the agency’s 150-year history, Massachusetts State Police Colonel Richard McKeon was featured Thursday at a swearing-in ceremony in Worcester, inviting the public to videotape troopers when they are in public settings and saying the force remains committed to tackling a “wide range of policing duties.”

“Our dedication can be seen every day, from high profile investigations like the one that spanned decades and put James Bulger behind bars to daily incidents and interactions that never make the news – but that mean everything to the victims and their families we help,” McKeon said, according to prepared remarks, during an event at Mechanics Hall attended by Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

McKeon highlighted police work aimed at apprehending violent criminals, drug traffickers and impaired drivers, searching for missing children, preparing cases through lab and detective work, and combating terrorism and “possible lone-wolf terrorists.”

“Police in this country are at a crossroads,” he said in his speech. “We cannot do our jobs without the public’s trust. As enforcers of our laws, we must always remember that we are also defenders of the Constitution. We do our job with respect for people’s individual rights. And if a member of the public wants to videotape us in a public setting, that is fine by us. We have nothing to hide. By all means, hold us accountable.”

He added, “We ask only that the public not judge us by the latest video of alleged police misconduct from locations all over the country on the national news. Those well-publicized instances – while they warrant full and unbiased investigation – represent an extreme and very small minority of police-public interactions. Rather, judge us by entire body of work and fulfillment of our mission. The vast majority of the time, you are going to see superb and courteous service to the public.”

Asked by reporters after his speech about the use of body cameras by State Police, “It’s contemplated. It’s a huge expense for a department this size. But it’s definitely an option. We’ll keep looking into it. Part of that process is the storage of the information as well as the equipment and how they’re going to be used. Policies need to be written and things of that nature. So it’s a lengthy process and we want to do it right when we do it.”

McKeon in his speech also identified goals, plans and priorities.

The State Police have plans for a new Boston barracks, a new emergency driving training track and improvements to their firing range, he said.

McKeon’s staff is establishing a “long-term vision for the State Police,” he said, and preparing to install a new dispatch and records management system that he said would reflect a “significant upgrade.”

State Police are working to improve their training for interactions with people with mental illnesses or Alzheimer’s Disease, he said, and looking for ways to “boost investigative resources” without retreating from uniformed patrols.

McKeon said members of a new training class that launches in the fall will bring “new life” to the force when they graduate in 2016.

On July 8, Gov. Baker picked McKeon, the deputy division commander of the Division of Investigative Services, as the new superintendent and colonel of the State Police. He took over July 12 for Timothy Alben, who retired after three decades with the agency.

McKeon joined the State Police in 1982 and has served as captain and unit commander for the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s office in Auburn. A Framingham State University graduate, McKeon earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College in Paxton.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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