Lee Police union members say they're not the target of FBI investigation
LEE -- Ten out of the 11 full-time members of the Lee Police Department say they aren't the targets of an ongoing FBI investigation.
On Thursday, the Lee Patrol Officers Union #396, which includes nine patrolmen and one sergeant, issued a response to the FBI's court-ordered search of the department's office late last month.
"Due to recent inquiries following an investigation led by the FBI and members of the state police, the union members of the Lee Police Department would like to inform the public, especially the Lee community, that the investigation has nothing to do with any department patrol officer," the union's statement said. "We continue in our commitment and effort to serve and protect our community."
All 10 members of the union support the statement, according to union officials.
Police Chief Joseph Buffis isn't a union member. He has a separate contract with the town.
Since federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation aren't revealing the purpose of the probe, the patrol officers felt the need to quell some of the suspicion surrounding the local police force, according to the union's lawyer.
"The feeling among union members is there's a suggestion they are part of the investigation and it's not fair to them," said Terry Coles, a Boston attorney.
Buffis confirmed two weeks ago that he had retained an attorney, but hasn't commented further on the case.
On Tuesday night, the Lee Board of Selectmen said they have no immediate reason to take action against the chief during the investigation. The board noted no charges have been filed against Buffis.
The FBI won't say why it searched the Lee Police Department and a Pittsfield home on Nov. 19. Federal agents also have declined to disclose what -- if anything -- was seized.
The FBI also won't confirm if the Pittsfield home it searched belongs to an employee of the Lee Police Department. Buffis, a Lee native and 33-year veteran of Lee law enforcement, has lived in Pittsfield for eight years. He has risen through the ranks, becoming a sergeant before he was named the town's police chief in September 2011.
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