BOSTON — A police chief honored by the White House for his work battling heroin addiction is among two officers in his department who have been placed on leave for undisclosed reasons.
Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said she placed police Chief Leonard Campanello on paid administrative leave effective Tuesday, pending the completion of an internal city investigation. She has declined to say what initiated the investigation or when it might conclude.
Police Acting Chief David Quinn on Wednesday separately confirmed that another officer, Sgt. Detective Sean Conners, was placed on administrative leave effective Sept. 8. Quinn and the mayor’s office declined to say whether the two suspensions were related.
But Quinn stressed the police department’s pioneering ANGEL initiative, which Campanello founded last year, is still helping heroin addicts get connected to drug treatment programs.
“The work of the department continues, and the safety of all is our mission and number one concern,” he said in a statement.
Campanello was honored in Washington as a Champion of Change in April for the ANGEL program, in which heroin addicts can turn in their drugs, needles and other drug-using equipment without fear of arrest if they agree to let the police department help place them into treatment.
The program has helped more than 500 addicts and has been replicated in more than 150 communities across the country since its launch last summer, officials said.
Campanello’s lawyer Terrence Kennedy said Wednesday the investigation has “nothing to do” with Campanello’s duties as police chief.
“We intend to cooperate fully with the city to bring this matter to a swift conclusion,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that when all the facts are fairly and impartially reviewed, Chief Campanello will be quickly and expeditiously returned to his position.”
Conners had no comment.
John Rosenthal, co-founder of a nonprofit helping other departments adopt the ANGEL program, said that in light of the investigation Campanello has stepped down from ?his duties in his organization, the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. Campanello is a co-founder and unpaid volunteer member of PAARI’s board of directors.
Since its founding, Campanello has been the organization’s public face, often travelling across the country helping police departments launch drug treatment efforts and accepting speaking engagements.
The Gloucester Daily Times reported the mayor’s investigation came after the police chief sought and received up to two weeks of personal leave last week to “untangle” certain aspects of PAARI from the city and its police department.
But Rosenthal insisted the investigation has “nothing to do” with the ANGEL program or his organization. He suggested it involves a “personal matter” but declined to elaborate.