GLOUCESTER (CBS) – Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello has been making positive national headlines for the last year–but now the town’s mayor has placed him on paid administrative leave, with no public explanation.
Gloucester Mayore Sefatia Romeo Theken’s office would only say that an internal investigation has been opened against Campanello, and the District Attorney’s office said they are not involved.
“I have absolutely no concerns in my personal or professional life that I’ve done anything wrong to warrant any action against me,” Campanello told the Gloucester Times Tuesday.
Police also said a Detective Sgt. Sean Connors has also been on leave since Sept. 8 on a personal matter.
Lt. David Quinn has been made Acting Police Chief until Assistant Chief John McCarthy returns from a vacation abroad.
In a statement, Quinn said he couldn’t comment on the nature of the investigation, but said he was notified last week that Campanello would be placed on leave.
“I want to assure our residents, business owners, and visitors that the Gloucester Police Department is fully operational,” Quinn said in a statement Wednesday. “The work of the department continues, and the safety of all is our mission and number one concern.”
Campanello has gained national headlines for his efforts with the Gloucester Angel Program, which allows heroin addicts to receive treatment rather than be arrested.
“He seems to be doing a lot of good things for our community, so I hope it’s nothing bad,” said resident Atlee Alman.
In the spring of 2015, with the help of former addicts-turned-counselors, the chief pledged that any heroin user with the desire to get clean could ditch their needles at the police department and get recovery help instead of handcuffs.
The District Attorney raised legal concerns about the chief’s no arrest pledge at the time, but the program drew praise nationwide as a better approach to the opioid crisis.
Just a few days ago, the chief took personal leave to untangle the growing Angel program from the day-to-day operations of his department.
Quinn said in his statement that the Angel program would continue despite Campanello’s absence.
“The Gloucester Police Department ANGEL Initiative continues unchanged,” he said. “The Gloucester Police Department received a participant on Tuesday evening, and the program remains open and able to place participants into recovery programs.”
Terrence Kennedy, an attorney for Campanello, told WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod that the investigation had all developed quickly, within the last 72 hours.
Attorneys for the chief said he is cooperating fully with the investigation.
“We intend to cooperate fully with the city to bring this matter to a swift conclusion,” attorney Scott Gediman said on behalf of Campanello. “We are confident that when all the facts are fairly and impartially reviewed, Chief Campanello will be quickly and expeditiously returned to his position as Chief of Police for the City of Gloucester.”
Mayor Theken placed Campanello on paid leave Tuesday, but did not comment on why the investigation was started.
“It is our understanding that it has nothing to do with his duties as Chief of Police,” said Kennedy.
But locals are left wondering why their chief has been removed indefinitely.
“I think the mayor needs to come forward and tell the people of Gloucester why,” said resident Kathleen Fitzgerald. “I mean, I think they have a right to know.”
“It’s a small town, we’ll find out soon enough, for sure,” she added.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports