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Report raises questions on Massachusetts police force

After the removal of Newton's police chief for alleged behavioral issues, further investigation found examples of more issues within the police force.
After the removal of Newton's police chief for alleged behavioral issues, further investigation found examples of more issues within the police force.

At the end of August, Newton police chief Matthew Cummings was removed from his job after reports found that he had made "boorish, disrespectful, and insulting" remarks to female employees and displayed overall offensive behavior.

Since then, further investigations came across more unsettling findings, including that workers consistently used profanity and that a clerk followed and secretly photographed his supervisor because he suspected overtime abuse, reported The Boston Globe.

Newton mayor Setti Warren told the source that residents should continue to trust the police force – which was named the fifth safest city of its size in the U.S., according to CQ Press.

Timothy Burke, Cummings's attorney, questioned the report, as he said that a majority of the paper relied on claims from the alleged victim. Jeanne Sweeney Mooney, Cummings's secretary, accused the former chief of harassment and name calling.

"I don't think the [political correctness] requirements of our society have gotten to the point that people can't have a sense of humor even in the workplace," Burke said in an inter­view last week.

There have been conflicting statements, as some employees claimed that Mooney and Cummings often engaged in friendly banter. For example, Mooney called her former boss an "idiot" after he missed an appointment. 

Mooney has been on administrative leave since September 2011 – she is at the center of a criminal case involving larceny charges. A letter she wrote to city officials in May prompted the initial investigation into Cummings. From there, the report led to more and more examples of possible inappropriate behavior, according to the news source.

Whether or not there were instances of inappropriate behavior, organizations of all sizes would be wise to take note of the situation. A business continuity plan is crucial to ensure that employees at all levels understand company policies regarding jokes and what is deemed appropriate interactions with coworkers. When one party does not understand how he or she is being perceived, that is when problems can occur.