EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

December 7, 2013

Police union head suspended over bee-sting death

(Continued)

DeNaro called Welch's claims about unfair treatment and political retribution "misleading and self-serving."

"It is blatantly obvious that he (Welch) has used and continues to use his union position in a feeble attempt to exonerate himself from all wrongdoing regarding his actions in dispatch on the night in question," DeNaro said in an email to newspaper. "For a community to have confidence in its police department it must have confidence in the department’s ability to objectively police itself and take corrective action when warranted. "

DeNaro cited Welch for violating department rules for making field reports and handling requests for assistance, as well as neglect of duty and unsatisfactory work performance.

The report by hearing officer David Connelly said his findings were based on "undisputed evidence that Officer Welch failed in his duties and responsibilities as a police dispatcher."

"Mrs. Schwartz's phone call provided clear and concise information to Officer Welch," the report said, in part. "The information gave exact areas of Mr. Schwartz's suspected location (e.g. a dirt path, the beekeeping area, Salem Street, Silsby Farm) ...The call was at 2:30 in the morning from an elderly woman who was understandably concerned about the well-being of her adult son because of his non-response to her calls to his cell phone."

Connelly's report said the call should have provoked a vigorous response from Welch, but that the officer determined it was not a priority call.

"Officer Welch suggested that because Mr. Schwartz was an adult, a more serious response was not warranted," the hearing officer wrote.

It is up to DeNaro to determine when Welch begins to serve the suspension. He said he expects the city's decision will prevail on appeal.

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