EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 29, 2013

Auxiliary police chief probe continues in Lawrence

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — Nearly two months after he was “relieved of duties,” Auxiliary Police Chief Jay Jackson remains off the volunteer force and the subject of an in-house investigation.

Police and city officials have not specified why Jackson was suspended from the auxiliary force and what the internal investigation entails, however.

Meanwhile, Carlos Garcia, a longtime auxiliary police member with the rank of captain, was named interim chief in Jackson’s absence, police said. Garcia is also a paid, civilian call taker who works in the police department.

“He is doing a great job,” said Lt. Shawn Conway, who oversees the auxiliary police department.

Jackson was the chief of the volunteer force for 26 years.

Auxiliary police officers, a force of about 35 officers, provide traffic support for road and bicycle races, parades, municipal events, funerals and other church functions. The primary function of the auxiliary force is to assist and augment the sworn force.

On Sept. 4, Jackson was suspended from the auxiliary force — the first full day after Police Capt. James Fitzpatrick became the police department’s interim chief. Fitzpatrick succeeded Police Chief John Romero, who retired Sept. 3 after 15 years as chief.

Fitzpatrick yesterday said he could not comment on the internal inquiry involving Jackson and his role on the auxiliary force.

He did say the matter is not related to Jackson’s paid, civilian job as facilities manager on the police department. Jackson is still working in that role and regularly seen in the police department.

Police have not said whether the current inquiry is related to an internal affairs investigation of Jackson last year. Jackson was disciplined after several men he supervised complained of sexual harassment.

In addition, some officers who had resigned or been dismissed before the complaint was filed, said Jackson did not provide required training and gave promotions, equipment and perk assignments to officers he liked better than others.

Jackson, 60, is also a main witness in a pending criminal case against Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla, former campaign manager for Mayor William Lantigua. Lantigua denied any involvement in Jackson’s suspension, however.

According to grand jury testimony, Jackson said Bonilla threatened to have him fired if he didn’t help Bonilla with an illegal car swap of 13 city-owned cars for four Chevrolet Impalas.

During grand jury questioning by prosectuor Michael Patten, Jackson said he only helped with the car swap because he feared being fired from the police department.

Bonilla is facing extortion, fraud and conspiracy charges in Essex County Superior Court as a result of the car swap. A trial is scheduled for April 7, 2014.

Jackson was been auxiliary chief for 26 of the 40 years he was on the auxiliary police force.

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Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.