Mayor announces independent audit of Greenfield Police Department

  • Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announces an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department will take place. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The city of Greenfield held a press conference Friday morning to announce an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department will take place. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announces an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department will take place. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announces an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department will take place. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/27/2022 1:59:10 PM
Modified: 5/27/2022 1:57:13 PM

GREENFIELD — Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announced Friday morning that the city is launching an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department following the May 6 jury verdict that found the department racially discriminated against a former officer.

The audit will examine the Police Department’s practices and standards in the wake of the decision that found Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. discriminated against former Officer Patrick Buchanan, the department’s only Black officer at that point, when he was denied a promotion.

As a result of the verdict, Buchanan was awarded $92,930 in lost back wages and $350,000 for emotional distress, which will be paid by Greenfield’s insurance provider. On May 24, Buchanan’s attorney filed a request for an award of attorney’s fees and costs in the amounts of $418,742.13 and $12,742.13. The city’s attorney has two weeks to file opposition.

“I’m announcing today that I will officially seek an independent audit of the Greenfield Police Department. I do so with the full agreement of Acting Police Chief William Gordon and Chief Haigh,” Wedegartner said in a press conference held at City Hall. “With racial bias, discrimination and gender equity as the primary rationale, the audit will cover organizational structure and governance, operating policies and procedures, department culture, hiring and promotional practices, professional standards and accountability, budgeting and planning.”

After her prepared remarks, Wedegartner said there is no concrete timeline on the audit because the city needs to go through the state’s procurement process first. She brought up Albany, New York, as an example, which has just recently gone through an audit of its own police force. According to the city’s website, bids for the audit began in July 2020 and presentations on the auditors’ findings were presented to the community in December of that year.

“It’s something that’s happening,” Wedegartner said, “and it’s something that’s warranted at this time.”

As the fallout of the May 6 verdict continues to unfold, Wedegartner said the city’s lawyer, Leonard Kesten, and the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), the city’s insurer, are discussing whether to appeal.

“Unfortunately, and most frustrating, is the fact that the judicial system operates slowly,” she said. “I accept the decision as it stands now.

“In every legal case, there is a right of appeal or to request a new trial. … The attorney and the insurance company believe that the city and Chief Robert Haigh did not receive a fair trial,” Wedegartner continued. “The decision on how to proceed based on that belief will be made by them, not the city.”

Additionally, Wedegartner announced that Lt. Todd Dodge, who was a lead witness on Buchanan’s behalf, has had his paid leave of absence lifted and has returned to his job with the department. Dodge and Haigh were both placed on administrative leave following the jury’s decision, with Dodge’s leave requiring him to be at home during his assigned working hours. Wedegartner said earlier this week that Haigh’s leave had different conditions, but could not discuss them because personnel matters are confidential.

Dodge was put on paid leave on May 6 for what Wedegartner wrote were “false allegations while under oath,” in a letter, which was filed in court, informing the lieutenant he was being placed on leave. Asked about a timeline for the investigation into Dodge, Wedegartner said she is waiting on final paperwork and that it “could begin soon.”

“As of yesterday, Lt. Todd Dodge is no longer on paid leave of absence and is back on the job as a member of the Greenfield police force,” she said. “With the potential layoff of up to eight patrol officers, Acting Chief William Gordon and I thought it was wise to put the lieutenant back on the job. The investigation into the allegations brought forth continues, however.”

The decision to reinstate Dodge to the police force comes in the wake of City Council slashing $425,000 from the police budget for fiscal year 2023, which means the department will lose eight of its 34 officers.

In response to calls from community members for Wedegartner to terminate both Haigh from his role as police chief and Lt. Dan McCarthy, who filed the original complaint against Buchanan, she said a full process must be followed due to union and Civil Service requirements. Regarding McCarthy, who displayed a Confederate flag in his garage seven years ago, Wedegartner, who was not mayor at the time, said she finds the “idea of displaying an expressed symbol of racism disgusting,” but that McCarthy has a constitutionally-protected right to fly the flag and it is not something an officer could be fired for.

“Removing either Chief Haigh or Lt. McCarthy is not as simple as saying, ‘You’re fired,’ Donald Trump-style,” she said. “Even if I decide to remove Chief Haigh from his duties as police chief, he is a Civil Service employee, and it would have to be done by following established protocols.”

Wedegartner said she understands the “disheartening” effects the racial discrimination trial has brought on the community over the past three weeks and she emphasized that the city is committed to eradicating racism.

“Make no mistake, I understand the gravity of the jury’s decision citing racial animus,” she said. “There is no place for racism in our city. That is not the first time I’ve said that and it will not be the last.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy