A 2019 independent investigation commissioned by the Edgartown Police Department found evidence Sgt. Craig Edwards may have threatened to shoot fellow police officers, may have sexually harassed one or more department staffers, and may have left a shell casing on an acting chief’s desk during internal strife over the choice for the next chief. Edwards went on paid administrative during the investigation, and later tendered a letter of resignation.
Pembroke private investigator Paul L’Italien was hired to conduct an investigation of an officer for allegations of misconduct, according to a partially redacted copy of the report he generated. Edgartown officials declined to produce any records when first asked by The Times on Feb 12. After an appeal to the state Supervisor of Public Records, an almost entirely redacted version of the report was given to The Times. On second appeal, the commonwealth ordered Edgartown to produce a less redacted report, and the town complied on June 26. While the name of the individual targeted in the investigation is redacted in that report, an ancillary records request showed the individual to be Edwards, a longtime member of the department.
The investigation shows L’Italien heard an account of an alleged threat to the police department from Edwards by a witness whose name is redacted. That witness alleged that on June 23, 2016, Edwards and the witness were working a “traffic post,” when Edwards allegedly made the threat.
“During the conversation, [Edwards] while referring to the police department stated, ‘I might go in there and shoot someone if I had another shift,’” the report states. The person Edwards was with “was particularly alarmed by not only what was said but the way [Edwards] said it,” the report states.
L’Italien asked the witness if the comment was made directly to him or just overheard. “[The witness] was clear the statement was made directly to him,” the report states.
L’Italien notes the person was concerned enough about what Edwards allegedly said that he told someone. The name of the person who was told this information is redacted. The information triggered a meeting where a union representative was present, according to the report.
At the meeting, a precise description of what Edwards allegedly said was given. Edwards denied that he made the comment. No corroborating evidence appears in the report.
The report goes on to highlight a possible intimidation incident connected to Edwards. The incident followed a difficult selectmen’s meeting in 2019, where Acting Chief Chris Dolby mentioned internal problems in the department, and recommended seeking an outside candidate for the chief’s position or internal problems might persist. Dolby had ascended to acting chief after Police Chief David Rossi suffered a heart attack and retired. L’Italien found that after that meeting, Edwards had allegedly left a shell casing on Dolby’s desk, along with an unorthodox piece of paperwork.
L’Italien sketched the selectmen’s meeting prior to describing the incident. “[T]here was a large crowd gathered for the meeting,” the report states. “[Redacted] attended the meeting and addressed the audience, showing strong support that an outside person be hired to fill the role of police chief.”
The meeting was punctuated by outbursts. Dolby told the board Edwards would be a likely candidate if the board chose from within the department, The Times previously reported. “My personal opinion is that if we have a candidate from inside,” Dolby said, “this stuff is just going to keep on going.”
“The next day (Jan. 10, 2018), [Dolby] came to work and found a spent shell casing on his desk,” the report states. “There was a memo form below the shell casing indicating [Edwards] had euthanized a deer during his patrol shift the night before. The memo form was a blue sheet of paper with the heading ‘Edgartown police department’ and formatted lines for ‘date, case #, to, from, subject, approved by, and signature.’”
A witness told L’Italien the “memo was an out of date form used for informal communications. He added there was never an occasion during this career” when such a form was used to notify the superior officers of a deer shooting. “He added it was certainly not a policy to leave a spent shell casing” on a particular superior’s desk following a gun discharge.
The report went on to state a witness “had written a report about the incident (2018000146) but did not follow procedure by securing the spent shell casing into evidence. When [Edwards] came in for his shift that day,” a superior, whose name is redacted, “called him into his office to ask about the note and shell casing.” The superior “focused on the use of the blue outdated form, and avoided the topic of the shell casing being placed on his desk. When asked specifically about the shell casing, [Edwards] stated he didn’t mean anything by it.”
L’Italien also unearthed evidence Edwards may have repeatedly violated department sexual harassment policy. L’Italien found Edwards would allegedly spend “hours” at a time talking to a female staffer and “long periods of time in her workspace,” at times allegedly staring at her chest when speaking to her, or allegedly standing directly behind her to the extent that she “felt pinned between her chair and desk.” All the alleged talking and time spent in the staffer’s space was distracting for the staffer. L’Italien found Edwards allegedly created or manipulated various circumstances to extend his time in her presence. The staffer reportedly described his behavior as “creepy.”
Edwards declined to be interviewed by L’Italien in November 2019. He was on paid administrative leave during the investigation. At some point, Edwards “put in a letter of resignation,” Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said. Hagerty declined further comment.
Among the department policies and regulations L’Italien recommended for consideration in evaluating Edwards were sexual harassment, conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty, insubordination, professional image, and evidence and property control.
L’Italien did not produce a final set of findings.
Edwards could not be reached for comment.
Edgartown selectman Art Smadbeck declined comment, as did Edgartown selectman Michael Donaroma. Selectman Margaret Serpa couldn’t immediately be reached.
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee, who was not chief when some of allegations are said to have taken place, declined comment.