EAST KINGSTON — Town officials are losing patience and demanding answers from the state Attorney General's Office on an investigation into the East Kingston Police Department that began last August and has cost the town $100,000 in legal bills and other expenses.
"We've been consistently contacting them, trying to get an end date to this with really no success. We're quite frustrated," Selectman Chairman Mark Cook said.
The Attorney General's Office is conducting a criminal probe to determine whether any members of the police department could be held criminally liable after an inmate trusty from the county jail left alone for several hours allegedly broke into the evidence room while working at the police department.
Inmate Jarred Brisbois was accused of breaking in and stealing heroin that he later brought back to the jail. Police Chief Reid Simpson and Cpl. Mark Iannuccillo were placed on paid administrative leave. Iannuccillo resigned in September; Simpson remained on paid leave until Jan. 1 when the town stopped paying him, Cook said.
The case prompted selectmen to freeze spending within all departments to avoid overspending the town budget.
Assistant Attorney General James Vara said Wednesday he can understand town officials' frustration, but would not say when the investigation might conclude.
"We certainly don't want to do it too quickly and not come to the appropriate resolution," he said.
After Simpson and Iannuccillo were put on leave, selectmen hired Municipal Resources Inc. to manage the police department and conduct an internal investigation. MRI was asked to look into the trusty incident and review the management of the department. Its report was recently submitted to selectmen.
Cook said the board is still reviewing the report, which hasn't been made public. Selectmen have asked their state representatives to get involved in hopes of getting answers.
"I understand they're busy, but on the other hand it's a burden to the town. It's a cost to the town, not only in money but we're without personnel. It's a stressful time," Cook said.
To control expenses, the town has stopped using MRI's services, Cook said. Officer Craig Charest was promoted to corporal earlier this month so he could serve as the officer in charge in Simpson's absence.