Police chiefs group backs Dodge


Recorder Staff
Monday, November 13, 2017

MONTAGUE — The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association offered its support for Montague Police Chief Charles “Chip” Dodge, calling the police union’s concerns about Dodge a “witch hunt” into his private medical affairs.

The association, representing 400 police chiefs in the state, sent the letter on Oct. 25, two days after the police union sent a four-page letter and a vote of no confidence in Dodge to the Selectboard. Dodge is in recovery for opioid addiction and was the subject of an attorney general investigation last year.

The Selectboard placed Dodge on leave Oct. 31 and initiated an internal investigation into the department.

Town officials have not publicly said what the investigation is focusing on, but that it comes on the heels of an Oct. 12 Recorder story detailing the Attorney General’s investigation into the department’s handling of a prescription drug drop box and how that investigation focused on Dodge. No charges were filed from the investigation and it was closed earlier this year.

The selectmen expressed support for Dodge when the AG’s probe was first announced and when The Recorder reported on Dodge’s opioid addiction months later.

Yet the regional anti-crime task force, a cooperative of the area’s large police departments coordinated through the district attorney’s office that works on major drug cases, declared it would not restore Montague Police Department to its ranks while Dodge was chief.

The chief’s association takes a different view of what’s transpired.

“No wrongdoing has been identified concerning Chief Dodge’s activities and actions,” the letter said. “Any “witch hunt” by a police union into the private medical affairs of a Police Chief — seeking his removal — is not only improper and unethical, it also formed the basis for a very legitimate MCAD (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination) claim by Chief Dodge. All should be mindful that he received his injury while on-duty.”

The letter, written by executive director Mark Leahy, a retired chief, said the association was fully aware of the events of the past year in taking a position.

“Chief Dodge is well prepared to move your police department forward in a positive, proactive and highly competent manner, particularly now that the Attorney General’s Office has identified no wrongdoing. We sincerely hope that you will stand with him and support him as he continues to act in the best interest of the Town of Montague.”

The chiefs association wasn’t the only letter of support received by the town. Greenfield Savings Bank President John Howland also wrote about the bank’s interactions with Dodge as police chief.

Howland said that Dodge requested that he, if he was willing, write a letter about his performance. He said he met Dodge when he first moved to town in 2015 and said that he was left with the impression that Dodge was involved in the community and took time talk with people in the community.

“It struck me as how fortunate the community was to have someone in this position who took the time to meet with the public and respond to public needs and requests,” the letter said.

He said that his interactions with Dodge have been consistent with their first meeting and that he is happy with the Police Department’s relationship with the bank as it relates to the bank’s security needs.

Both of these letters came around the same time two others did: one from the Montague police unions that expressed a vote of no-confidence in Dodge and another from former Montague Police Chief Ray Zukowski that called for Dodge’s resignation.