UMass Dartmouth police union calls on university to remove chief

Mar 28, 2022

The union representing UMass Dartmouth’s police department is calling on university officials to remove chief Haydee Martinez from her position, accusing her of fostering a hostile work environment and being “unwilling and unable to effectively perform her duties.”

According to the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 339, there has been “a staggering list of complaints” compiled by officers which detail “a police chief rife with incompetence, lack of organization and accountability, total disregard for the collective bargaining agreement, and absent the ethics integral to effective police leadership.”

The union claims there have been more than 20 grievances, multiple unfair labor practices, as well as several Equal Employment Opportunity and hostile working environment complaints filed since Martinez took over as chief in March 2021.

This workplace environment, the union said, has resulted in “high turnover” at the campus’ police department.

“This has resulted in significantly understaffed shifts and jeopardizes both the safety and security of the University community, as well as the safety of the IBPO officers,” a press release read.

Martinez could not be reached for comment.

According to the union, several of the complaints also characterize the chief as “unwilling and unable” to effectively perform her duties, ranging from accusations that she is “consistently and noticeably not present at the station” doe not communicate with supervisory staff, and regularly reports to work several hours after the start of the workday.

The union said officers also expressed concern over whether Maritnez was qualified for the position and alleged the university did not conduct “a transparent and fair hiring process” when she was promoted to chief.

“In a critical incident situation, Chief Martinez’s lack of experience and sub-par leadership would be a detriment to the University and the UMass community,” the press release read.

Martinez joined the campus’ police department in 2020 and was promoted to be its first female chief of police in 2021. 

Prior to working at UMass Dartmouth, Martinez worked for Northwestern University’s police department for nearly 19 years, where she became the first Latin-American woman to reach the rank of lieutenant.

She also participated in Northwestern’s Change Makers Review Committee and the Gender Queer, Non-Binary, Transgender Task Force, which explored how the university could better recruit, retain, and support the success of these faculty, students and staff.

This is not the first time UMass Dartmouth’s police union has called for Martinez to resign. 

Last year, when Martinez was still deputy chief, the union voted 23-3 that it had “no confidence” in police leadership, alleging that her and former Chief Emil Fioravanti created a department full of “hostility, retaliation, and unethical behavior.”

With this latest call, the union is urging university officials to “launch an open, fair, and transparent process to hire a new Chief of Police that can meet the needs of the department and the University community.”

“Only then can we start rebuilding morale, work on retention as well as hiring through effective and proper leadership and management,” the union wrote.

University officials declined to comment on the matter.