By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Former Wolfeboro Police Chief Dean Rondeau routinely disparaged women, gay and transgender people on Facebook and in conversations with staff, according to an investigation by Municipal Resources Inc.
The town ordered the review of his behavior after a detailed complaint by an unidentified person in April.
Rondeau retired after 27 years soon after the investigation began and he was placed on paid leave. But on Wednesday Rondeau indicated the town may not have heard the last from him.
“My attorney and I are keeping our options open,” Rondeau said in a phone call with InDepthNH.org. “I do feel I have been harmed. We’ll see where this goes. We’re keeping our options open.”
His attorney is Paul Monzione. Rondeau declined further comment. MRI Senior Consultant and Director of Police Services Sean Kelly conducted the administrative investigation that included Capt. Mark Livie’s conduct.
The 28-page heavily redacted report was emailed Wednesday to InDepthNH.org responding to a request for a copy from Wolfeboro Police Commission Chairman Steve Wood.
The identity of the person who made the initial complaint was redacted, but similar concerns were repeated by several of the officers interviewed by Kelly of Municipal Resources Inc.
Some officers described the Wolfeboro Police Department under Rondeau’s leadership as a divided toxic work place that included favoritism, one officer responding to an unattended death scene unable to get backup and other allegations beyond the original misogyny and homophobic allegations.
“Complaints made by (redacted) have been substantiated,” Kelly wrote. “Witnesses of every rank at the Wolfeboro Police Department describe a long-occurring pattern of misconduct by former chief Dean Rondeau.”
While the investigation was completed in June, the Wolfeboro Police Commission hasn’t brought it to the general public yet.
Municipal Resources Incorporated, (MRI) of Plymouth was engaged by Preti Flaherty Attorney Peter Callaghan on behalf of the town of Wolfeboro to conduct an independent review of the complaint.
“There is ample evidence to suggest that there has been a systemic breakdown of effective leadership of the Wolfeboro Police Department resulting in an unacceptable workplace culture,” Kelly wrote. “The intentional process of encouraging others to excellence in the delivery of law enforcement and police services to the community, if not an already-failed effort at the command and middle level of management, is in jeopardy due to the void of formal leadership training, experience, and effective practice.”
Capt. Livie, who was promoted from senior patrolman to captain over others with more experience, said he should have gotten more training.
Livie told Kelly at the outset Rondeau’s instructions to him as Captain were to write policy, keep the department from being sued, and keep Rondeau from being blindsided.
“Livie’s description is of a department in disarray, including an unusual ratio of ranking officers to patrol level officers (8 ranking officers to just 5 without rank),” Kelly said.
Lt. Guy Maloney said he was Facebook friends with Rondeau and found his postings embarrassing and inappropriate for the chief of police.
They included making fun of a beer company’s ads embracing transgender people.
Maloney said if Rondeau has those beliefs, he needed to keep them to himself.
…”It makes the PD look bad,” Maloney told Kelly.
“Like others, Maloney described Rondeau retaliating against Mike Strauch and Mia Lyons as a result of his perception that they were not supportive of him. He believes that the poor relationships within the department, particularly those between command staff and line officers, are known throughout the county, and it is negatively impacting the ability of the department to recruit quality police officers,” Kelly wrote.
When asked about the unauthorized release of information to the media about Rondeau being placed on leave, Maloney admitted that he had created a fictitious email account with the intent of embarrassing the chief by making a transgender advocacy group aware of his Facebook posts and remarks, the report said.
The report said he didn’t go through with it but gave access to the email to another officer.
Sgt. Mike Strauch told Kelly he was present multiple times when Rondeau made inappropriate remarks about (redacted).
“Strauch thinks that Rondeau’s remarks were made as part of venting but that because he’s the chief he shouldn’t be doing that in front of others. Strauch described Rondeau’s behavior as ‘outlandish’ and occurring so often that it became normal and ‘par for the course.’”
Strauch said Rondeau referred to gay men by calling them “fagmire.”
Strauch told Kelly that Rondeau and Livie “made moves to put money in their pocket.”
He described them as greedy, and said they sought out overtime and detail opportunities that were not first offered to union members. When asked whether the union had stepped in, Strauch said there was a divide in the union between members who supported Rondeau and Livie and others who did not.
Sgt. Jarrod Beaulieu was asked about the Carroll County Sheriff’s investigation about the lack of assistance Livie received at the scene of an untimely death. Beaulieu said no one would help the captain when the call went out for needed staffing. He said had it been anyone else people would have come in from off-duty to assist.
“A lot of people don’t have faith in the captain,” he told Kelly.
Detective Shane Emerson said his office is across the hall from the gender specific bathrooms at the police station and said Rondeau frequently used to ladies rest room. He said Rondeau has often made comments about or discussed his sex life.
“Rondeau’s comments are so frequent that that Emerson described it as ‘Dean (Rondeau) being Dean,’” the report said.
Dispatcher Mia Lyons said Rondeau “would bang on the wall (of the restroom) and say the water was cold and deep as he was going to the bathroom.”
When asked Lyons what that meant “she said it was her understanding that when Rondeau was making this remark he was saying that he has a huge penis; that he’s being funny, that he thinks he’s hilarious.”
Lyons said Rondeau would come into the dispatch center and refer to having gone to “headboard heaven with his wife” the night before meaning that he had sex with his wife.
Rondeau acknowledged making that remark when he was interviewed by Kelly.
When asked whether he had called (redacted) a (“redacted”) to Capt. Livie or other subordinates, Rondeau stated he didn’t know but said that it is possible.
Rondeau said, “I do use language like that.”
Rondeau told Kelly in the U.S. Army when female officers entered the service as lesbians it was not legal. At the outset of his career it was a violation of the uniform code of military justice to be a homosexual in the military, Rondeau told Kelly.
Officers that are now colonels or general had to lie about being gay when first commissioned, he said.
When shown his Faceook posts that prompted the April complaint, Rondeau told Kelly they were “funny” and “hysterical” and he was entitled to his opinions on his personal Facebook page.
When asked about whether he referred to having sex with his wife as headboard heaven in front of his employees, Rondeau explained that it was a “common joke. Yes. It’s true; it’s true.”
Rondeau explained his perspective: there was a lot of “jocularity” that had been going on for 27 years. “These people do it as well.”
“It sounds like they are picking on everything bad I’ve done in 27 years,” Rondeau told Kelly.
Rondeau said the others would join in or even instigate it.
“Just because I’m chief of police doesn’t mean I give up my first amendment rights to kind of poke fun at what’s going on. A lot of that stuff is satirical,” Rondeau told Kelly.
According to its conclusion, “MRI recommends that the Police Commission conduct, or cause to be conducted, a review of high-risk management and leadership practices at the Wolfeboro Police Department. The resulting recommendations may be used as a road map for course correction.”