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Waltham Mayor McCarthy to ask for $10k for LaCroix internal investigation

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 20, 2013 03:25 PM

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Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy will once again appeal to the City Council on Monday for funds to conduct an independent investigation of the events leading up to the arrest of suspended police Chief Thomas LaCroix in Maynard last summer.

This time she is seeking $10,000, half her original request.

LaCroix was placed on paid administrative leave in June, after being arrested by Maynard police for allegedly assaulting his wife and a female neighbor during two separate incidents.

Earlier this month, councilors on the Finance Committee balked at a request for $20,000 for the internal investigation, which would help find out whether LaCroix had broken any departmental rules, and could lead to the termination of his pay.

Waltham's acting police chief, Keith MacPherson, told city councilors at the meeting that there would be an inherent conflict of interest if a Waltham police officer investigated LaCroix.

"It would not be appropriate for all those subordinate in rank to attend court and take notes on the testimony,” MacPherson had said, noting that Police Department officers could have the opportunity for a promotion if LaCroix is found guilty.

However, many councilors questioned the timing of the request, and tabled the matter after a long discussion on Feb. 4.

“All of a sudden we’re in a hurry, but it wasn’t a hurry until now,” said councilor Thomas Curtin, who chairs the Finance Committee Curtin.

Now, in recent communications to the council from the mayor, McCarthy is asking that $10,000 be appropriated from a personnel department account, instead of the city’s free cash account.

In her email, McCarthy said the request’s timing is so the city can pursue the investigation promptly after the conclusion of the criminal trial, which begins March 27, leading potentially to a timely end to LaCroix’s paid administrative leave.

"According to the Police Department Rules and Regulations, the Internal Affairs applies to all police officers," McCarthy said in her email. "Therefore, the City cannot bypass the Police Department's Rules and Regulations."

McCarthy said the money would be used to hire a retired state police officer to interview officers involved in the arrest, and to attend LaCroix's criminal trial to gather facts for the internal investigation.

The City Council meeting will begin Monday at 8 p.m. at Waltham City Hall, 610 Main St.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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