Demand Attorney General Maura Healey Investigate WPD Misconduct

Attorney General Maura Healey

This is a petition demanding that the Worcester Police Department be investigated for their repeated abuse of power, use of excessive force, and racist behavior, in conjunction with a petition to the Department of Justice that can be found here. We ask that Attorney General Healey acknowledge that police departments historically show patterns of civil rights violations and discriminatory behavior, and that AG Healey investigates the Worcester Police as a department as well as individual officers who have displayed a repeated history of misconduct, as well as those who have received promotions in the department despite being named as defendants in police misconduct lawsuits.

Through a records request, Defund WPD acquired payment information for 27 lawsuits from 2010 through 2020 citing police misconduct that have cost the City of Worcester more than $4 million of taxpayer money due to lost cases and settlement agreements. An additional 15 police misconduct lawsuits remain in litigation.

However, using the term “misconduct” fails to encapsulate the egregiousness of police officers’ actions. From hurling racial slurs against Black and Latinx residents, to violently assaulting a grandmother in her own home, to coercing a confession from an innocent teenager that cost her years in prison, Worcester police officers continue to act with what retired Massachusetts federal judge Nancy Gertner has called “a culture of impunity” that stems from officers believing they can “get away with virtually anything.”

While this culture of impunity allows officers to remain unchecked, they are stripping the city of vital funding that could be allocated to underfunded departments in the city. It is important to remember that these payments do not come out of the police department budget. The Worcester Police Department is quite literally not paying for their actions – but we are. $4 million dollars is five times the amount Worcester has allocated the Department of Health and Human Services 2021 budget. It is twenty times the amount allocated to job training and workforce development. It is 164 times the amount allocated to a program dedicated to finding sustainable housing for chronically homeless residents. The same people brutalized by police are the ones who have to foot the bill should the police get caught.

The astronomical amount of wasted taxpayer dollars is a direct consequence of this culture of impunity remaining unchecked by City Leadership – the same leadership that argues Worcester is somehow “different,” a place immune to the systemic racism that plagues this entire country. As these lawsuits show, nothing could be further from the truth. The Worcester Police Department must be investigated for their violence, their betrayal, and their crimes.

No longer can we listen to the narrative that officers who engage in misconduct are simply “bad apples” who’ll be thrown from the bunch, particularly when several officers appearing in this collection of lawsuits have been named as defendants in multiple suits, yet remain members of the Worcester Police Department, while even more have gone on to receive promotions and rank as the highest-earning City employees.

No longer can “accountability” be a buzzword thrown around in an attempt to drown out the cries from those who have been brutalized by police. We ask that Attorney General Maura Healey step in where our local leadership will not. Defund WPD calls upon AG Healey to deliver accountability to a department rife with officers who have become accustomed to acting with reckless abandon.

Petition by
Defund WPD WPD
Worcester, Massachusetts
Sponsored by

To: Attorney General Maura Healey
From: [Your Name]

For decades, Black, Latinx, and Asian residents in Worcester have been terrorized by law enforcement agents. They have been victims of racially targeted attacks, excessive force, and other constitutional and civil rights violations committed by law enforcement agents in their official capacity, leading to a collection of lawsuits that have cost the city – and many of its underfunded departments – millions of taxpayer dollars. Because of the continued egregious behaviors of the Worcester Police Department and many of its officers, we request the following from Attorney General Maura Healey:

Firstly, we request that AG Healey acknowledges that police departments – including the Worcester Police Department – display a pattern of discriminatory behavior and violations of civil rights and actively work to protect residents of the state in order to take steps towards actively protecting residents of the state. Secondly, we request that AG Healey investigates individual officers within the WPD who have displayed repeated instances of misconduct as well as those who have been promoted despite being named as defendants in misconduct lawsuits.

Following a records request for police misconduct lawsuits that cost the City of Worcester any sum of money, it has been found that from 2010 to 2020 police brutality and misconduct have cost Worcester taxpayers $4 million – and the safety and well-being of our community members.

Among these cases includes examples of police officers using excessive force at a routine traffic stop, violently assaulting a Puerto Rican grandmother while using disparaging racial remarks, and coercing a confession from a Vietnamese teenager for a crime she did not commit, leading her to losing years of her life in prison. These are only a small sample of instances in while the Worcester Police Department has put forth behaviors that risk the lives of residents – especially residents of color – and in the process of doing so, syphon millions of dollars from the city budget that could otherwise be used to fund some of our most vital departments and public services.

In 2018, retired federal Judge Nancy Gertner told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette that, during her time as a federal judge, she “did not hear good things” about the Worcester Police Department, stating that there was a “culture of impunity” that surrounded officers, as they believed they could “get away with virtually anything.” It is unacceptable for individuals with the professional title of “law enforcement agent” to believe that they themselves are above the very law they are expected to enforce and uphold.

There are several officers within this collection of lawsuits who have been identified by multiple residents as violating constitutional and civil rights on separate occasions. These officers include Captain Matthew D’Andrea, Officer Thomas C. Duffy, Officer Jensen Martinez, Officer Jeffrey Carlson, Officer James Powers, and Officer Mark Rojas. Even more officers have received promotions since being identified in misconduct lawsuits. For example, Captain Matthew D’Andrea has seen several promotions despite being named as a defendant in multiple lawsuits: he was a police officer when named in the police brutality case Houde v. Torgeon in 2005, and was a Sergeant by the time he was a defendant in Rosenthal v. City of Worcester et al in 2013, one of the 27 settlement cases received through the aforementioned records request. He was promoted to Captain in 2017, and has since consistently been one of the top-ten highest city employees.

In the past, Attorney General Healey has been a proponent of State Attorneys General having the authority to investigate police departments who engage in unconstitutional policing in order to bring forth systemic change. We ask that AG Healey continue this work by investigating the Worcester Police Department for its repeated violation of residents’ constitutional rights, its abuse of power, and any other infractions earned by any members of the department, as well as individual offending officers who have been repeatedly identified as violating the constitutional rights of residents yet see no penalty, professional or otherwise.

Worcester residents deserve to know that the protection of their constitutional and civil rights is a top priority, and investigating officers who violate those rights is a step towards that goal.