SEABROOK — The police chief said he won’t investigate claims made by a state representative – who said in a social media post that a retiring police detective was involved in criminal activity, including attending “cocaine parties” – because there is no credible evidence or a formal complaint.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, Selectwoman Theresa Kyle criticized state Rep. Max Abramson, who represents Rockingham District 20 and is also a Seabrook Planning Board member, for a post he made on Facebook claiming Scott Mendes, a retiring Seabrook officer, was involved in criminal activity, drugs and fighting.
By the end of the meeting, Kyle and Selectman Aboul Khan – who also is a state representative – called for Abramson to resign from the Legislature and Planning Board.
In response to the accusations, Mendes and acting Police Chief Brett Walker called Abramson’s claims “appalling” and said they were false and made to slander Mendes and the Police Department.
“I’ve been in law enforcement between Hampton and Seabrook for 30 years,” Mendes said. “I’ve never had such a horrible, erroneous accusation made against me. When I first started, I said I took this job to do the right thing ... I went into this career saying, ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated.’”
In a recent private group message among Seabrook state representatives, one member posted a link to a Seacoastonline article about the retiring police officer. State lawmakers in the group chat discussed issuing Mendes a commendation for his years of service, but Abramson wrote that he didn’t want his name included on any citation.
“(The officer) basically lied, played games and withheld evidence during my self-defense case,” Abramson wrote on the forum. “He is one of the dirty dozen crooked cops with a history of drug use, fighting and criminal conduct on that police department and he knows what I think of crooked cops.”
Mendes said he’s had “zero interactions” with Abramson, who claimed Mendes withheld evidence in a case in which he was involved in 2011.
Mendes noted that Abramson was charged with a felony and convicted on a charge of reckless conduct for discharging a firearm in his home. Given that Abramson is an elected official and faced a felony-level offense, Mendes said such cases are handled in Superior Court.
“The statement that I withheld evidence during his trial is false because I never prosecuted the case,” Mendes said. “I’ve never had access to the Seabrook Police Department’s evidence.”
Walker said he was made aware of the comments before the selectmen meeting Monday. Walker noted the Police Department and the officers who work there take their oaths “very seriously” and are “most definitely held to a higher standard.”
“It is quite troubling to see that these comments were made by an elected official without any substantive evidence to support such claims,” Walker said. “While the comments attempt to cast several unnamed officers in a negative light, it was extremely upsetting to have soon-to-be-retired Detective Scott Mendes’ name slandered as he concludes a career of dedicated service to the town of Seabrook.”
Walker said the Police Department will not investigate Abramson’s “vague claims” against Mendes because of a lack of evidence. Walker noted that Abramson hasn’t filed a complaint against Mendes, further lacking a reason to move forward.
On Monday, when asked if he had any proof, Abramson told The Daily News that he heard from other people in town that Mendes attended drug parties.
“We take these types of things seriously, but at the same time, he’s not providing any evidence,” Walker said.
“This is just something that’s out there. We have processes in place to deal with allegations of that nature, but there’s also an element of what are we being given that we’re able to follow up on?”
As far as Mendes, Walker and Town Manager Bill Manzi were aware, claims like this have not been previously presented to the Seabrook Police Department against any of its officers.
To read a previous story on the issue, visit https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/state-rep-accuses-seabrook-officer-of-drug-use-criminal-conduct/article_09251eef-fb54-5c54-bd08-2a47790ef1d6.html