State Civil Service Commission Launches Review of Methuen Police Hiring and Promotions

Former Methuen Police Chief Joseph E. Solomon. (Courtesy photograph.)

The state Civil Service Commission wants to ensure the safekeeping of Methuen documents “that contain any information in any way related to the appointment and promotion of any police personnel in the City of Methuen’s Police Department.”

Commissioners notified Mayor Neil Perry and Police Chief Joseph E. Solomon in a letter dated Wednesday, but released to WHAV today.

Commission Chairman Christopher C. Bowman specified the board seeks information relating to “intermittent, reserve and/or full-time police officers, during the prior 10 years.” Bowman cited “possible violations of civil service law,” listed in a Nov. 30 Boston Globe story. Globe investigative reporter Andrea Estes wrote Solomon “handed out extraordinary favors to members of the council or their relatives” following a Methuen City Council vote in 2017 approving Solomon’s contract.

The Civil Service Commission ordered the mayor and police chief to “immediately identify, locate and preserve any and all documents in either written, electronic or other form, including, without limitation, all correspondence, memoranda and other communication and documents prepared by, sent to or received by any person or entity in your possession.”

As WHAV reported at the time, the state Ethics Commission ruled in April that then-City Councilors James Atkinson; James P. Jajuga, who later became mayor; and Lynn Vidler violated the state conflict of interest law when they participated in two votes approving the superior officers’ contract. All three accepted so-called “public education letters” in lieu of other punishment to resolve the allegations.

The Globe noted Council chairman Atkinson was hired as a junior accountant for the police, while Councilor Sean Fountain, a veteran North Andover firefighter, was hired as a full-time police officer without ever taking a standard civil service exam.

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