Boston police captain cleared of most charges

Hearing officer calls for department to review handling of case

A BOSTON POLICE captain who was on paid leave for 2½ years for violating the rules of conduct returned to work earlier this year and then scored a major victory in June when a hearing officer dismissed most of the violations against him and he received just an oral reprimand for the remaining transgressions.

The outcome is a black eye for the Boston Police Department because Haseeb Hosein, the first Muslim to rise to the rank of captain, collected his salary of $633,000 during his leave while performing no work. Moreover, the hearing officer said the complaints against Hosein appeared to be orchestrated and called for an investigation.

“Captain Hosein argues, persuasively, that the department’s actions toward him, when viewed in their entirety, have been unfair and disparate in its treatment of [him],” Deputy Superintendent Richard Dahill, the police department’s chief administrative hearing officer, wrote in his June report. “The timing of filing the complaints appears to have been orchestrated to have the biggest negative impact on Captain Hosein. . . . . I do believe a review is warranted.”

Dahill also said the length of Hosein’s paid leave raised questions. “The fact that Captain Hosein was on administrative leave for approximately 2½ years does appear to be excessively long,” Dahill said in his report. “Although administrative leave is not disciplinary action, rather an action deemed necessary to maintain the efficiency of the department, it could be construed as punishment when used longer than needed.”

Hosein was allowed to return to work in January, assigned to the Bureau of Community Engagement. He subsequently appealed the charges brought against him and is reportedly now considering filing a lawsuit against the city. Hosein declined comment.

In 2019, three separate internal affairs complaints were brought against Hosein, a 33-year veteran of the force who at the time had been commander of the District B-3 station in Mattapan since 2014.

Two of the complaints against Hosein involved his failure to seek the required prior authorization from his superiors for two unrelated actions he took — converting a marked cruiser into an unmarked cruiser and altering the plans for conducting a joint Boston Police/FBI warrant sweep. Both of the complaints were brought by members of the command staff at Boston Police headquarters.

The third internal affairs complaint, which was filed anonymously — most likely by a police officer — involved Husein failing to talk to, as part of his investigation, a white sergeant who made a racially insensitive remark to a Black officer.

The violations cited in the three complaints involved a range of issues, including unreasonable judgment (three counts), lack of accountability (one count), failure to comply with directives and orders (two counts), improper vehicle maintenance (one count), and untruthfulness (one count).

Seven of the eight alleged violations were sustained by the Internal Affairs Division. The one exception was the accusation of untruthfulness, which was not sustained.

The complaint regarding the cruiser conversion alleged that Hosein committed three violations: failure to follow directives and orders, failure to keep the vehicle in good working order, and unreasonable judgment.

The hearing officer reversed the findings on two of the violations— failure to follow directives and orders and failure to keep the vehicle in good working order — but sustained the finding that Hosein exhibited “unreasonable judgment” in how he handled the conversion of the cruiser.

“I find the department has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Captain Hosein used unreasonable judgment . . .[when he had] an unauthorized vendor, without any documentation, permanently change and modify department property,” the hearing officer wrote. “I also find that Captain Hosein accepted the gift of a vehicle paint job estimated to be worth anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 to be problematic.”

The internal affairs complaint lodged against Hosein for altering the plans for conducting the joint BPD/FBI warrant sweep involved him increasing the number of hours from four to a full tour of duty of nearly eight hours without getting the required permission of his supervisors.

Hosein testified that he made the change in the operation, in order to make the 4 a.m. detail more appealing to his officers. The hearing officer expressed mixed feelings about that decision.

“I find Captain Hosein gave a thoughtful and rational explanation for changing the hours,” he wrote, but added, “While the explanation . . . . may have been reasonable, I find the execution was not.” The hearing officer sustained the allegation that Hosein failed to comply with directives and orders for the warrant sweep.

The internal affairs racial complaint involved Hosein failing to talk to, as part of his investigation, a White sergeant who upon being asked by a Black officer if he was free to leave said something along the lines of, “You guys have been free for over 200 years.”

The hearing officer thought that Hosein’s reasoning for not speaking with the sergeant was sound. “While I agree it would have been better for Captain Hosein to have spoken with Sergeant [John] Ahern, I find he gave valid reasons why he did not speak with Sergeant Ahern,” he wrote. “Captain Hosein noted that allegations of racism against a person, without validation, can do more harm than good to the community he was attempting to foster at District 3.”

This is not the first time that Hosein has been the subject of internal affairs complaints. In 2007, he was suspended for 240 days for violation of paid detail rules, being untruthful, and unbecoming conduct.

When on the job, Hosein consistently has been one of the city’s top earners, pulling down $399,000 in 2018. Forty percent of his pay came as a result of working overtime and paid details.