LAWRENCE – Mayor Daniel Rivera on Sunday will promote six police officers to sergeant and lieutenant, including one who was placed on leave for five days after he became involved in an incident at headquarters while off duty early on May 5.
In announcing the promotions, Rivera and Chief James Fitzpatrick declined a renewed request to describe the incident involving the officer, Maurice Aguiler, who was then a sergeant but will become a lieutenant on Sunday.
Rivera said he is aware of the details of the incident, but said only that there is nothing in Aguiler's record “that the public should be concerned about.”
He pointed to Aguilar's resume, including his law degree, his service in the Air Force during the Gulf War in 1990 and '91 and his 15 years as a Lawrence cop and eight as a deputy sheriff in Essex County.
“In my duties as mayor, I've been to crime scenes with these officers – (Fabian) Guerrero, Aguiler, (Michael) Mangan,” Rivera said, referring to the three sergeants he's promoting to lieutenants. “You get a working relationship with them. Hopefully I've garnered their respect as a leader. They've garnered mine.”
Assistant City Attorney Raquel Ruano last month rejected a request from The Eagle-Tribune for records of the incident involving Aguiler, including the internal affairs investigation that Fitzpatrick said he ordered. Ruano said the state's Public Records Law allows municipalities to withhold documents in an employee's personal file if releasing them would violate the employee's privacy.
The newspaper on Wednesday appealed the denial to the secretary of state. The paper cited a 2002 ruling by the state Court of Appeals that most records involving a police officer's conduct – including internal affairs investigations – are not covered by the privacy exemption Ruano cited.
The incident involving Aguiler occurred about 1:30 in the morning on May 5, when he was found standing by his personal car outside police headquarters on Haverhill Street and was brought inside, where a dispatcher called 911 for an ambulance, Fitzpatrick said at the time.
Fitzpatrick said he was awakened at his home by a phone call from headquarters just after Aguiler arrived and told his conduct was raising concerns at headquarters.
A recording of the call reveals that the dispatcher asked for an ambulance at the employee entrance to police headquarters, but said she had “no idea why” one was needed, so the tape of the call contains no record of the event.
Aguiler declined medical attention when the ambulance arrived. He remained at the station for “a period of time” and was not allowed to drive his car from the station, Fitzpatrick said. An on-duty officer drove him home. He returned for his car Saturday, Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick put Aguiler on paid leave while issues involving his conduct were investigated. The leave lasted five days.
In an unrelated incident, Aguiler fatally shot a man who had stabbed his girlfriend in the man's Melrose Street apartment on April 26, 2016, and then engaged police in a standoff. Aguiler fired after the man pointed a gun – later found to be jammed and inoperable – out the window of the apartment. District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett found the shooting of the man, Antonio Gonzalez, 27, was justified.
Aguiler, 49, has been on the force since 2004. He earns $73,000 annually. He did not respond to a telephone message left at headquarters Wednesday.
Rivera said he made the six promotions at Chief Fitzpatrick's recommendation. He said two of the lieutenant's positions were empty, and the three men promoted to sergeant will replace the three who were promoted to lieutenant, so there will be little impact on the department's $13.3 million budget.
He said the added command officers are needed as the ranks of patrol officers grow. Rivera has hired a net of 23 new officers since becoming mayor in 2014. All of the this week promotions were from Civil Service lists.
Amanda Wall, director of support services at the Police Department, did not return phone calls seeking information about the salaries the newly promoted officers will earn.
Also promoted were:
* Sgt. Michael Mangan, to lieutenant. A Lawrence police officer for 15 years and a Marine veteran of the Afghan war. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice;
* Sgt. Fabian Guerrero, to lieutenant. A Lawrence officer for 15 years and a lawyer;
* Officer Paul Rossi, to sergeant. A Lawrence officer for 17 years with a master’s degree in criminal justice;
* Officer Robert Moody, to sergeant. A Lawrence officer for 22 years, with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice;
* Officer Ariel Montas, to sergeant. A Lawrence officer for nine years and a veteran of the Iraq War.