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Methuen Police Department Performance Audit

Edward FlynnDebora FriedlKeri RichardsonMonique JenkinsBrenda Bond
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In May of 2020, the City of Methuen, through a competitive bid, selected the CNA Center for Justice Research and Innovation to conduct a performance audit of the Methuen Police Department (MPD). In conducting this audit, the CNA team developed an objective and in-depth understanding of MPD’s operations in areas including budget, equipment, training, staffing levels, and processes (hiring, equipment acquisition, and development of policies and procedures). After the onset of the audit, the CNA audit team was made aware of concerns about department leadership, organizational culture, and department personnel morale. Although the City of Methuen did not originally contract with the CNA audit team to explore these issues, we expanded the scope of our inquiry and this report to reflect these emerging topics.

The CNA audit team developed this report by reviewing department operations, policies, procedures, general orders, department data, and culture. The report includes findings and actionable recommendations that outline specific items for improvement related to different areas of department operation. To develop these, we compared MPD’s standard operating procedures with national best and evidence-based practices, Massachusetts Police Accreditation Standards, and practices of similar Massachusetts law enforcement agencies. The audit team also collected data from interviews and surveys of department personnel. This report presents the results, findings, and recommendations from the audit.

CNA's comprehensive assessment of MPD included an examination of the following:

  •  Organizational structure and governance
  • Budgeting and planning
  • Operating policies and procedures
  • Department culture
  • Professional standards and accountability

As a result of this audit, our key findings include:

  • MPD lacks a formal procedure or process for conducting a comprehensive review of policies and procedures on a regular basis.
  • Members of the organization do not trust the department’s use of the assessment center to make promotional decisions because there seem to be conflicting interests involved in the process.
  • The MPD’s high number of assigned specialist positions is not warranted, given its size and operations.
  • There is widespread perception that favoritism affects management and discipline decisions within the MPD.
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Details

  • Pages: 70
  • Document Number: IIM-2021-U-030700
  • Publication Date: 9/13/2021
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