15 Mass. officers suspended, including 3 from western Mass.

This comes thanks to the state’s police reform law passed in 2020.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 6:22 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News is getting answers on the suspension of fifteen police officers in the state of Massachusetts, three being from western Massachusetts. This comes thanks to the state’s police reform law passed in 2020.

The legislation created a new police standards and training commission which just suspended the licenses of 15 officers, all who have been either arrested, charged, or indicted for a felony. One name on that list is Leon Davis, a former Springfield Police officer.

Fifteen Bay State police officers had their certifications suspended this week by the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, or POST. This commission is fairly new, developed after the passing of the 2020 Massachusetts Police Reform Bill.

“How to hold officers accountable, at the same time, supporting them in every way possible, to make sure that their day to day operations to protect and serve is done in the highest authority, but in a way that is deemed appropriate to protect and serve,” Representative Carlos González explained.

On their list of duties is the requirement to immediately suspend any officer that has been either arrested, charged, or indicted for a felony.

Their first round of suspensions included fifteen officers, three of which were officers in western Massachusetts. They include:

  • Devon Bones, Holyoke Police Department
  • Bryan Custadio, Fall River Police Department
  • Leon Davis, Springfield Police Department
  • Ernest Fontaine, Fitchburg State University Police Department
  • David Forte, Needham Police Department
  • Kevin Garneau, Lowell Police Department
  • Nicholas Hoar, Fall River Police Department
  • Tomas Morales, Woburn Police Department
  • Keith O’Donnell, Somerville Police Department
  • Brian Pomeroy, West Springfield Police Department
  • Joseph Ponzo, Stoneham Police Department
  • James Quilty, Natick Police Department
  • Kevin Rooney, Watertown Police Department
  • Matthew Sheehan, Massachusetts State Police
  • Colby Turner, Worcester Police Department

The most well-known might be Leon Davis, a former Springfield Police officer accused of using excessive force with his taser on a pregnant woman. You can see the events that played out in the body camera footage from that day in September of 2020. He is currently listed as employed but not working for the department.

Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh told us, quote:

“Officer Davis hasn’t worked as a Springfield Police officer for nearly two years.”

Officer Devon Bones from the Holyoke Police Department is also on that list because of an ongoing criminal case out of Springfield. We have learned that Bones was placed on suspension from the force.

Plus, former West Springfield Police Captain Brian Pomeroy is also listed. He was charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on two female coworkers during an after party following the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2022.

Western Mass News received a statement from the West Springfield Police Department that read, quote:

“Brian Pomeroy has not been employed by the Town of West Springfield since July 13, 2022. The West Springfield Police Department has been transparent and compliant with all of the POST Commissions requirements. We cannot comment on Mr. Pomeroy’s pending legal matters, as he is no longer an employee of the West Springfield Police Department.”

However, we wanted to know – if Pomeroy was already removed from the force, what is the significance of POST revoking his certification? We took that question to associate professor of criminal justice, Creaig Dunton.

“Basically, they mean that within that state, they would no longer be eligible to be hired for law enforcement, no matter what the jurisdiction would be,” Professor Dunton told us.

He said that POST’s action of suspending these officers’ certifications, prevents them from being a police officer in any other part of the state. However, it does not prevent these former officers from applying to other police departments in other states.

State Representative Carlos González is the chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. He said that the officers who are suspended are placed in a database, and he hopes that will be considered if any of these officers apply for a job out of state.

“The overall goal is to make sure that officers are held to the same standards across the country, and we look forward to seeing that officers that are let go in one state for violation of their oath will not be allowed to serve in another state,” he told us.

We reached out to the POST commission to see what the next steps are for the departments that still have suspended officers on the payroll, but we have not yet heard back.

A law enforcement officer whose certification is suspended can request a hearing before a commissioner within 15 days. A suspension order is in effect until a final decision or revocation is made by the commission.

If an officer is decertified, they can no longer work for any law enforcement agency in the state.