Methuen Police Chief Joseph E. Solomon, who has announced plans to retire as Methuen’s police chief, called accusations made against him by the state’s inspector general as “blatantly false.”
Solomon, in a letter dated last Friday to Methuen Mayor Neil Perry said Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha’s office “never interviewed” him or gave the chief the “most basic common courtesy to respond to accusations.”
“The impact that another long, drawn-out fight would have on the city, the department, and on my family is something I believe should be avoided at all costs,” Solomon said, appearing to reference his previous battles with the city.
Solomon was fired by former Mayor William Manzi in 2008 for alleged misuse of federal grants. He was later reinstated as chief in 2014 by then-Mayor Stephen Zanni as part of a settlement agreement.
The Valley Patriot newspaper was the first to report Solomon’s letter and plan to retire.
Solomon, who turns 60 this month, said he is a lifelong Methuen resident and served the police force 35 years—18 as chief. In his letter, he said among his accomplishments are launching the Methuen Police/Northern Essex Community College Police Academy; being one of the first departments to issue the lifesaving opioid-reversal drug, Naloxone, to officers; purchasing an aerial drone for search and rescue and other emergency situations; marching with Black Lives Matters’ protesters; and underspending last year’s budget by more than $800,000.
Following Cunha’s report just before Christmas, Perry placed Solomon and Capt. Gregory Gallant on paid administrative leave. Executive Capt. Kristopher McCarthy was named acting chief of police and Lt. Randy Haggar was named captain of Field Operations.
As WHAV reported, Cunha noted there was a “failure of leadership at all levels” in Methuen when a police contract was approved that allowed substantial raises. The inspector general said Zanni “agreed to unprecedented changes to the Superiors’ Contract without understanding their financial impact;” Gallant, Methuen Police Superior Officers’ Association president, drafted the final contract and added language that had never been agreed to by City officials;” and Solomon was aware of the unapproved language and failed to tell his colleagues on the city’s negotiating team.
“Solomon represented the City in contract negotiations with both the superiors’ union and the patrol officers’ union despite the fact that his employment contract tied his compensation to both of those contracts,” Cunha’s office wrote, adding, the language “indirectly—but substantially—increased Solomon’s compensation.” Solomon is now reportedly one of the highest paid police chiefs in the country.
In his retirement letter, Solomon summed up the aftermath of the investigation, saying “…ceaseless baseless attacks on my integrity, together with the constant political interference in the management of the department, have created a negative environment that is detrimental to the city, the dedicated members of the department, and to my family and friends.”