25 Investigates: Investigation of Mass. Court Officer Training Academy underway

25 Investigates has learned the Office of Court Management agreed to hire an outside team in June to investigate all aspects of the Massachusetts Court Officer Training Academy following our report about claims of physical abuse and hazing at the facility.

The team is now in place, and includes former U.S. Marshal for Massachusetts Nancy McGillivray and former Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke, who also served as the state’s Public Safety Chief.

The same team was hired in 2017 to investigate how state police commanders handled the arrest of a Dudley judge’s daughter.

The Massachusetts Court Officer Training Academy on the grounds of Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee trains security officers who work in courthouses across the state.

The investigation was ordered after retired Somerset Police Chief Joe Ferreira went public with allegations of hazing and abuse at the academy. Ferreira is an elected member of the governor’s council.

He said the abuse happened to a family friend, and included claims of slapping, and screaming at trainees.

The union that represents court officers has 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.”

The director of security for the Trial Court has gone on record saying the alleged hazing and abuse never happened. Part of an internal memo written last spring reads:

“I have discussed this matter with the department leaders who administer the academy and they have assured me that such behavior did not, and does not, occur at the training academy.”

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.”