Tuesday March 29, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Massachusetts State Police have not completed an internal affairs investigation of a trooper implicated in a federal probe into the distribution and sale of illegal steroids.

Law enforcement officials also have not identified the targets of the sweeping probe, which appears to be a joint investigation by one or more agencies and already has ensnared the trooper and a Pittsfield police officer. The multi-jurisdiction investigation was not specific to Berkshire County, according to an official with knowledge of the probe.

The Pittsfield police officer has been identified as David P. Kirchner, a former plainclothes narcotic investigator who was demoted to the city's uniform patrol division. But state police officials said the trooper would not be identified until the internal affairs investigation is completed.

"I don't have a time frame here," David Procopio, a state police spokesman in Framingham, said Monday.

The trooper in question had been stationed at the Russell Barracks in Hampden County, but was transferred to troop headquarters in Northampton in Hampshire County. Procopio said the trooper has been stripped of his gun and police cruiser pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.

Besides losing his position in Pittsfield's drug unit, Kirchner was removed from the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, an elite countywide investigative unit comprised of municipal and state police.

Kirchner was suspended earlier this month after he was found to have engaged in criminal conduct and conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to an internal affairs report authored by Pittsfield Police Capt. David R. Granger, the department's uniform patrol commander.

Kirchner and the trooper are facing possible criminal charges in connection with the federal probe. The United States Postal Inspection Service has confirmed the existence of an ongoing investigation, but a USPIS inspector in Boston declined to verify the agency's involvement.

Meanwhile, the trooper in question has been placed on "restricted duty" at the Northampton barracks -- the regional state police headquarters for all four Western Massachusetts counties -- pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.

Once that is completed, the trooper's name and any disciplinary action taken against him would become public information, Procopio said, adding that punishment could range from a reprimand up to termination.

City solicitor Richard M. Dohoney released the results of the Pittsfield Police Department's internal affairs report on Friday. The heavily redacted document omitted the names of the investigating agency, or agencies, as well as the name of the individual who allegedly sold steroids to Kirchner. That individual is identified in the report as the "subject and defendant" in the ongoing federal probe.

Frederick A. Lantz, a spokesman for Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless, would not confirm whether the district attorney's office has a role in the probe.

"We're not confirming or denying any involvement in an investigation into steroid use," Lantz said late last week.

Pittsfield Police Chief Michael J. Wynn said city police officers are not randomly tested for drugs.

"It's never made it into the collective bargaining contract. It's never been settled," Wynn said Monday. "I think it's a good idea, although it has to go through the vetting process."

Procopio said state police troopers are required to submit to random drug testing.

"We're pretty aggressive and progressive in making sure members are not using illicit drugs," he said.

Sources have told The Eagle that only two police officers have been tied to the probe, which emanated from Boston and involves the delivery and receipt of steroids through the U.S. mail. No other officers are expected to be charged, the sources said.

To reach Conor Berry:
cberry@berkshireeagle.com;
(413) 496-6249.