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December 2, 2008

Police lieutenant under probe for threat heard on radio

A Gloucester police lieutenant allegedly threatened to hire someone to do violent damage to a woman's property in an on-duty conversation broadcast over the police radio.

City officials are investigating the alleged threat made by Lt. Michael O'Hanley during part of a profanity-laden cell phone discussion with a third party. The alleged threat, as reported last night at www.gloucestertimes.com, was picked up by a police radio in his car, broadcast and recorded at the police station.

City officials last night did not provide any information about who was threatened or precisely what O'Hanley allegedly wanted to hire someone to do. There was no indication last night that any actions described in the radio transmission have been carried out.

O'Hanley faces disciplinary action pending the completion of an internal investigation into the incident by the department and city, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said last night. Attempts to reach O'Hanley by phone at his house last night were unsuccessful.

Kirk said she is expecting a recommendation within the next 24 hours from police Chief John Beaudette, City Solicitor Suzanne Egan, Personnel Director David Bain and Chief of Staff Jim Duggan regarding a disciplinary response to the incident, and whether or not the investigation will have to be handled by an outside agency. If further investigation is needed, Kirk said it would involve state police.

Kirk said the alleged threat came to her attention yesterday morning after an unidentified source contacted Duggan by e-mail. Kirk said she listened to the tape of the transmission containing the threat yesterday morning, along with Beaudette.

"There was some foul language and a threat made by a police officer; the matter is under investigation," Kirk said.

"Disciplinary action," she said, "will be taken."

Kirk said the recording was garbled and obscured by static and questions remained about the exact intentions described.

O'Hanley is on vacation and Kirk said as far as she knew he had not been contacted about the allegations.

O'Hanley was promoted to lieutenant in October 2005, and heads up the patrol division's midnight to 8 a.m. shift. He was the second highest-paid city employee in 2007, making $162,906 in salary, overtime and detail pay.

Patrick Anderson can be reached at panderson@gloucestertimes,com

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