By The Shoestring
In 2017, the Northampton Police Department received a grant from the retailer Wal-Mart to produce baseball style trading cards to be handed out to school children in the city. Kids who successfully collected all 50 cards were given a ride to school in a police cruiser. In response, The Shoestring is creating Northampton Police Misconduct Trading Cards. This is the second in the series. For #1 Robert Powers, click here.
#2 Alan Borowski
In 2013, Alan Borowski was one of three officers — along with Christopher Dumas and Thomas Briotta — who responded to an incident at Tully O’reilly’s, a bar on Pleasant Street. In an altercation with police that was filmed and went viral, Dumas and Briotta are seen shoving Jonas Correia, a Black man, to the ground as he yells repeatedly “I didn’t do anything.” Then Borowski pepper sprayed him.
Correia had been, incidentally, photographing a confrontation between police and another patron before officers escalated with him. Correia’s lawyers maintained that the video evidence dramatically contradicted the police’s narrative of events, specifically the claim that Coerria had struck a bouncer. Correia was charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. The charge of assaulting a police officer was dropped and the disorderly conduct charge was converted to a civil infraction.
The city’s insurer paid Correia $52,500 in a settlement for excessive force and wrongful arrest.
The story of Borowski doesn’t end there (nor does Briotta’s, with a trading card forthcoming). Borowski has been the subject of two internal investigations into alleged wrongdoing, and has been the defendant in two lawsuits claiming damage from the “wrongful” investigations.
In 2017, an anonymous letter surfaced within the NPD, which accused Borowski of removing pills from the department’s drug lock box without another officer witness. He was placed on paid leave while an independent investigation took place.
The investigation was conducted by the Tewksbury firm APD management, which is headed by Alfred Donovan, a former police chief who mishandled a high profile internal sexual assault investigation while chief. Donovan brushed it off, saying there was “insufficient evidence” of the complaint against one of his dispatchers. Despite not being able to find enough evidence himself, the court found the dispatcher guilty of “assault to rape and indecent assault and battery” and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Donovan’s investigation into Borowski’s drug box misconduct found that the lieutenant had violated the policy and failed to inform his superiors “that he had authorized an investigation into the pills,” according to The Gazette. He received a three day suspension and lost wages.
A second investigation conducted by Captain Dorothy Clayton found more violations of department policy. “Several” NPD employees alleged Borowski had broken 10 rules. Clayton found evidence he had broken five, including calling in sick and taking out his boat, fixing his hours and using his cruiser to take his girlfriend to dinner. He was given a two day suspension without compensation.
In the year Borowski was under investigation, he was the second highest paid employee in the city of Northampton, earning $138,686.90.
However, in 2019, the findings of these investigations were null and void when Borowski’s Trump-supporting union, the New England Police Benevolent Association, intervened with a lawsuit against the city. An arbitrator found that investigators had mishandled the probe investigating Borowski’s rule breaking. The PBA’s lawyers won settlement with the city for $54,836.52 and reversed the lieutenant’s suspensions, his record was cleared of wrongdoing, and he received back wages.
The saga is continuing. The Shoestring was about to put this trading card on the website when a new Gazette article dropped explaining a new lawsuit the union’s lawyers had cooked up against the city on Borowski’s behalf. The lawsuit alleges the now-deemed wrongful investigations were part of an intentional smear campaign designed, on the part of Borowski’s superiors, to damage his career.
Despite being acquitted of wrongdoing, Borowski undoubtedly mishandled the drugs and violated NPD policy, whether or not the investigations were mishandled. His union engaged in a relentless pressure campaign against the city with its multiple lawsuits on Borowski’s behalf, effectively shutting down the internal affairs process, and telling the city that its cops are above the need for accountability.
A new lawsuit alleges that Borowski perpetuated a “cycle of harassment” against a citizen who tried to bring a complaint against an NPD officer.
Stay tuned for more trading cards and opportunities to collect them.
NPD Misconduct Trading Cards are produced in partnership with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.