25 Investigates: 2 top officials at Trial Court Officer Academy suspended amid hazing probe

BOSTON — 25 Investigates has learned two senior officials at the academy that trains court officers in Massachusetts were put on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into hazing allegations.

Investigative reporter Ted Daniel first broke the hazing story back in June. That’s when allegations of physical and verbal abuse of recruits were brought to our attention. Soon after we asked the Office of Court Management about those claims, an independent investigation was announced.

Now, we have learned two high-ranking employees at the academy, which operates on the grounds of Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, were suspended. A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told 25 Investigates their suspensions are related to information gathered during the ongoing probe.

25 Investigates contacted the Office of Court Management for comment on the suspensions. The agency would not disclose the names of the individuals but confirmed that two employees are on “paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

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The trial court academy is an eight-week program that trains the security officers assigned to courthouses across the state. In June, retired Somerset Police Chief Joe Ferreira publicly raised concerns about allegations of hazing and abuse at the academy.

He said the abuse happened to a family friend and included claims of slapping and screaming at trainees. Ferreira is an elected member of the Governor’s Council. The union that represents court officers raised similar concerns, writing in one email:

“Over the years the union has raised numerous concerns regarding tactics being used by trainers… particularly swearing and screaming at candidates, just inches from their face.”

When the investigation was announced, David J. Holway, the National President of the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), the union the represents court officers, said, “We are pleased that the trial court has taken our concerns to heart about the court officer training academy and has hired these investigators to look into allegations of abuse.”