METHUEN — Suspended police Officer Arthur Hardy no longer wants votes for city councilor at large.
Hardy’s name still will appear on the already printed ballots for the Nov. 5 election, but he is urging people not to back him due to conflicts of interest in the Police Department, he said.
“I don’t want to be part of the problem. People are begging for people with no conflicts,” Hardy said. “So I figured I’d step aside.”
Hardy, the president of the Methuen patrol officer's union, is suspended from the department without pay until June 14, 2020. He is accused of mishandling evidence at a crime scene back in August 2018.
Hardy initially told The Eagle-Tribune that he wanted to be elected to the City Council to make a difference in his community while sidelined from policing.
But recent updates with contentious police spending have caused him to think otherwise, he said.
“I’ve spoken with lawyers and people in general who think it’s a conflict of interest,” he said. “I want to do the right thing with the Ethics Commission getting involved and everything.”
He’s referring to recent news that city councilors will file a formal complaint with the state ethics commission requesting a look at how pricey police contracts were approved in 2017.
Attorney Darren Klein wrote a letter to Ethics Commission Chief Monica Bookman on Thursday to request an investigation into how the Rule of Necessity was used at a Methuen City Council meeting Sept. 18, 2017.
The Rule of Necessity is a law that allows an elected board under very limited circumstances to allow participation despite conflicts of interest in order for the board to act.
When it came to approving Methuen superior police contracts, five councilors at the time had conflicts of interest. They all contributed to unanimous approval anyway.
The current council is requesting that the Ethics Commission invalidate the votes that were taken Sept. 18, 2017 and rescind or cancel the approval of the superior officers’ contract.
If not stopped, the contract would have inflated some salaries 183% in a year for superior officers, which equates to as much as $432,295 in pay before overtime.
Union Attorney Gary Nolan has said the inflated salary figures apply to very few individuals and have never been demanded or even requested by the police union or any officer.
Hardy said he has been telling Methuen residents not to support him anymore, specifically because of pending arbitration and litigation.
“It’s not the right time,” he said.