State gives Greenfield police chief conditional status toward recertification

  • Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. in his office at the Police Station on High Street. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Police Lt. Todd Dodge, pictured with body cameras in the Police Station on High Street. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/4/2022 5:32:54 PM

GREENFIELD — Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. has been “conditionally recertified” by the state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission in the first wave of the new process for credentialing law enforcement officers.

“He recently received a notification dated Sept. 14 that he was recertified,” said Mayor Roxann Wedegartner on Tuesday. “That, to me, should have been the end of it, but I don’t know the ins and outs of POST because it’s all very new.”

Haigh received the original letter dated Sept. 14 on Monday, after requesting it from POST, according to Wedegartner. That letter, which Haigh and Wedegartner said they didn’t receive on the date it was sent, states the commission “has not found it necessary to attach any limitation, condition or restriction to (Haigh’s) recertification.”

A subsequent notification received Tuesday afternoon, however, states that the certification will not be finally determined until POST has had an opportunity to analyze “additional information” it has received. The letter doesn’t specify what information, only that it is “potentially relevant” to Haigh’s certification.

“In the interim, I’m glad to hear he has been conditionally recertified, and there will be an avenue toward recertification,” Wedegartner said.

Meanwhile, the certification of Police Lt. Todd Dodge remains “pending,” according to Deputy Police Chief William Gordon. When reached Tuesday, POST Commission spokesperson Cindy Campbell declined to comment on the recertification status of specific officers until the review has concluded.

The first stage of POST’s new recertification process seeks to certify officers throughout the state with last names beginning with A through H, the first group subject to the process under a 2020 policing reform law.

Officers can be classified as certified, conditionally certified — a temporary certification that means certain requirements haven’t been met yet — or not certified. A public records request last month indicated that of the 18 Greenfield officers with last names A through H, only Dodge and Haigh remained to be recertified. Gordon said he believes the state commission is still hiring people and developing a system to look through the list of officers whose status is “pending.”

Although recertification documents were expected by June 30, “officers on approved or extended leave must complete their certification requirements no later than 90 days after the date of their return to service,” the POST Commission’s website states.

Haigh and Dodge were both placed on paid administrative leave on May 6 for a matter separate but related to a racial discrimination case at Hampshire County Superior Court that found Haigh and the Police Department had acted with “racial animus” toward former Greenfield Police Officer Patrick Buchanan when he was denied a promotion in 2014. Buchanan was the department’s only Black officer at the time.

Dodge, who had testified in support of Buchanan’s claim, was unable to prove the city retaliated against him and thus was in violation of the Massachusetts whistleblower law. He had his paid leave lifted and returned to work in late May, a decision that Wedegartner attributed to staffing issues. She reinstated Haigh as chief on Sept. 1.

“We’re not exactly sure of all the ins and outs of who they’re reviewing,” Haigh said in reference to the POST Commission. “I don’t think there’s any stock yes or nos on how they do it. We’re certainly asking a lot of questions whenever we have the chance.”

Haigh declined to comment further on the change in his recertification status.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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