Chicopee city councilors to ask for state investigation of police, mayor

Dr. Q

Earlier this week, ABC40 reported that the mayor of Chicopee knew about an incident in which police officers took pictures of a homicide victim and shared them with fellow officers for a year before alerting the family and the public:

ABC40 has learned new details surrounding the punishment handed out to a Chicopee Police officer who took photos of the body of murder victim Amanda Plasse.

Amanda was murdered in her downtown Chicopee apartment in August 2011. An ABC40 investigation revealed last week that Mayor Michael Bissonnette knew about the incident at least a year before he told Amanda’s family and the public about it.

Last week, Mayor Bissonnette denied knowing of the photos taken of Amanda’s body until the summer of 2012, “If in fact this had been brought to my attention at the outset I think the results would have been a little bit different.”

That’s what Bissonnette told us last week about the investigation.

“The department issued letters of reprimand internally,” Bissonnette said, “Now the way the process works, Brendan, is that unless a suspension is imposed the mayor isn’t notified.”

Exclusive details now show otherwise. On April 19th, 2012, Bissonnette was sent a letter by former Police Chief John Ferraro, notifying the mayor that the officer who snapped the photos was given three extra, unpaid shifts, essentially a working suspension, as punishment for his actions.

“He knew about it and now I’ve got people over there saying ‘I knew nothing about this’, that’s not true,’” Regional Supervisor of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Robert Dickson said.

Dickson says Chicopee Police Internal Affairs investigator, Deputy Chief Bill Jebb recommended that the officer who took the photos be fired.

“He thought it was bad taste to look at the photos like that or show those around but then three or four different reports come in and they all contradict each other so he says how can we put this guy on the witness stand,” Dickson said.

But Chief Ferraro didn’t take the recommendation. The letter to the mayor officially notified Bissonnette, human resources, and the police officer of his decision. The union says the mayor can’t reopen closed cases, whether it’s the Amanda Plasse photos case or 40 internal issues an outside investigator is reviewing.

Now, ABC40 reports that Chicopee city council members plan to ask the attorney general to investigate.

After an ABC40 investigation this week revealed new details about the inquiry into the department, the City Council is now calling for an outside investigation. They’ve put together a timeline of at least three inconsistent statements made by the mayor about what and when he knew about the photos.

Councilors say he backtracked on his facts several times. Now, they are asking the Attorney General for two investigations: What knowledge the mayor had of the photos and a probe into the actual taking of the photos and their effect on the ongoing murder case.

City Councilor John Vieau told ABC40, “I want to get a look at this timeline and see this information and figure out what on earth is going on.”

“We feel that that’s probably the only way that we will get necessary information. Get right information and have it done in right matter. Amanda Plasse’s family needs closure,” notes City Council President George Moreau.

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