The recently formed state-level Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission is tasked with evaluating the worthiness of police officers to serve as sworn officers. They are empowered to revoke officers’ certification, thus preventing said officers from serving as police anywhere in the state of Massachusetts. Please read our official complaint regarding Chief Haigh and consider signing below. We will not publish your name or address online, but they will be visible to the Massachusetts POST Commission in the official complaint.
To the Members of the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission:
We, the undersigned, submit this formal complaint of Unprofessionalism (Policy or Procedure Violations/Conformance to Laws; and Conduct Unbecoming) for your review and hereby request an official investigation of the worthiness of Chief Robert Haigh, Jr., to be a sworn officer of the Greenfield Police department.
Attached please find the following documents:
- Plaintiff’s court filing (Buchanan v. Greenfield & Haigh, Hampshire Superior Court) regarding expert testimony on the Greenfield Police Department’s misuse of the Internal Affairs process and unequal application of discipline
- An historical complaint filed with the Greenfield Public Safety Commission in 2016 by a Greenfield resident, with related responses to the complaint by city officials, acquired through public records request
See also links to news articles in the incident narratives below.
We believe that these documents provide substantial evidence of poor judgment, mismanagement, and willful neglect on the part of Chief Haigh. We note in particular:
- Haigh’s unwillingness to apply appropriate disciplinary measures following serious misconduct by subordinate officers, showing a lack of any effective oversight, which is his duty as chief;
- Haigh’s obvious poor judgment in various cases:
- in knowingly assigning an officer with a reputation for bigotry to investigate harassment and civil rights violations;
- in refusing to cooperate with other city officials seeking to remedy said officer’s inappropriate assignments, going even so far as to violate a newly passed city ordinance;
- in enabling his officers to violate federal labor law during multiple authorized union strike actions by nurses; and
- in directly causing a resident to be fired by her employer, when she lodged legitimate grievances regarding mistreatment and misconduct at the hands of Greenfield officers.
Some of these incidents have only recently become widely known to the residents of Greenfield, and Chief Haigh has lost the confidence of the Greenfield community. We present each of these issues/incidents in greater detail below.
We have additional serious concerns related to a jury’s findings of “racial animus” in personnel decisions made by Chief Haigh (Hampshire Superior Court case Buchanan v. Haigh and City of Greenfield), but we understand that as this case is currently under appeal the Commission is not yet able to consider the jury’s verdict for purposes of their investigation.
We submit these incidents below in good faith and in our best understanding of the facts as represented in the public record. We request the POST commission consider our complaint and its associated documentation and offer prompt resolution regarding the worthiness of Chief Haigh to serve as a sworn officer.
The undersigned residents of Greenfield and Franklin County
Unwillingness to apply discipline following serious misconduct by subordinates
Ancillary evidence from the Buchanan case demonstrated that Haigh neglected to impose disciplinary action against officers for a range of serious offenses:
- While on duty, Lt. Scott Daniel McCarthy apprehended a young man on the street who had previously had a relationship with his daughter, failed to properly identify himself as a police officer, seized the young man’s cellphone, and forced him to unlock it so McCarthy could search it. The internal affairs investigation into the incident was broken off after McCarthy’s daughter refused any interview if her father was not present.
- Lt. McCarthy also seized drugs and cash and failed to turn them in to the police department for 8 weeks. Haigh responded with only a ‘verbal warning’ for McCarthy.
- Det. Todd Clark was known to be inebriated on duty multiple times with no disciplinary action, despite having operated a cruiser and having a gun. He received only verbal warnings from Haigh.
- Sgt. James Rode was well known to be a poor driver, and in 2017, Rode crashed into another vehicle while driving his cruiser 83mph in a 35mph zone, killing the driver and seriously injuring the passenger. Despite this incident, Rode remained on payroll for months and months (injured on duty status) with no disciplinary action of any kind. Rode was finally fired only when he was convicted of vehicular homicide in 2018.
For reference, see especially Plaintiff’s Expert Disclosure (Document #67) regarding Chief Haigh’s misuse of the Internal Affairs process and unequal application of discipline. See these court documents for a fuller and more detailed account of the incidents described above.
Inappropriate assignment for civil rights investigations and duties, willful disregard of community concerns, and willful violation of legislative ordinance relating to civil rights
In 2015, then-Sergeant Scott Daniel McCarthy was discovered to be displaying a large Confederate flag in his garage. McCarthy’s neighbor brought this fact to the public’s attention because his young son, who is Black, was disturbed and fearful because of the Confederate flag at the residence of a sworn officer. Public outrage over McCarthy’s flag led to vigils and protests, while McCarthy’s neighbor was subject to intense homophobic harassment out of retaliation for reporting the flag to the public. Despite widespread concern and demands for accountability, Haigh never opened an internal investigation into McCarthy for “Conduct Unbecoming to an Officer” or for any other charge, instead taking the position that the flag was within McCarthy’s private rights of free speech.
Chief Haigh had previously appointed McCarthy as police liaison to the Greenfield Human Rights Commission, an appointment that already raises concerns given McCarthy’s personal political inclinations and reputation in the community. In light of the flag controversy, the HRC considered it inappropriate to communicate with the police department through Sgt. McCarthy and asked to communicate directly with Haigh. Haigh refused this request and in fact kept McCarthy as liaison to HRC through 2019.
In 2016, anonymous, targeted racial and sexual harassment of city councilors led to further controversy in Greenfield. Councilor Penny Ricketts, who is African American, received anonymous demeaning, threatening racist images and messages, leading to great personal distress. When fellow city councilor Rudy Renaud defended Councilor Ricketts publicly, Renaud also received nearly identical demeaning, threatening homophobic images and messages. Despite the controversy over McCarthy’s political views and affiliation with the hateful icon of the Confederate flag, Chief Haigh assigned McCarthy as the investigator for these incidents of hate and harassment. The investigation found nothing.
In direct response to Haigh’s repeated, inappropriate assignment of McCarthy to civil rights roles, the City Council passed a law ordering the creation of a position of Civil Rights Officer within the Greenfield Police Department, who would be responsible for receiving specialized rights-oriented training, handling civil rights investigations, and serving in key civil rights roles in Greenfield city government. In direct violation of this municipal law, Haigh refused to appoint a Civil Rights Officer for almost 5 years, only eventually appointing officer Laura Gordon as CRO in 2022. As noted above, McCarthy continued to serve as liaison to the city Human Rights Commission for almost 3 years after this law passed.
For additional references, see:
Enabling officers to violate federal labor law
In both 2017 and 2018, Baystate Franklin Medical Center hired GPD officers for special detail assignment in the lead up to an authorized nurses’ strike. On each occasion, in flagrant violation of federal labor law, GPD officers threatened the arrest of union nurses to prevent them from meeting with their union members who were finishing their shift before a lockout. Despite this recurring violation of labor law by GPD officers under his charge, Chief Haigh has not intervened in any way or sought additional training for officers regarding the law or their responsibilities under the law.
For additional references, see:
Retaliating against a complainant
In 2016, GPD officers entered the home of a Greenfield resident with no warrant and only on suspicion of a previous OUI. The resident was in her shower at the time. Officers forced her to exit her shower and dress in front of them. She was never charged. In her official complaint, the nurse listed damning details of the behavior of GPD officers, including calling DCF on her out of retaliation. When she phoned the police station and angrily complained to the officer who arrested her, Haigh informed her employer, leading directly to her termination. The resident’s complaint was investigated by Deputy Chief Mark Williams, but because Haigh was his superior officer Williams declined to address Haigh’s own actions in calling the woman’s employer and getting her fired, suggesting instead that the City consult their own legal counsel in preparation for a probable lawsuit. No further action was taken. To our knowledge there was never a disciplinary or legal review of Haigh’s actions which resulted in the resident’s being terminated from her employment.
See accompanying documents from the Public Safety Commission complaint for a more complete narrative.
By signing below, I add my name to this complaint and express my concerns about the fitness of Robert Haigh, Jr., to be Chief of Police of Greenfield.
Note: We will not share your information with anyone other than the POST Commission, but information we submit to POST will be subject to public records laws. We will only contact you regarding the progress of this complaint, unless you are already signed up for our email list.