UMass police chief placed on administrative leave

Jul 19, 2022

UMass Dartmouth Police Chief Haydee Martinez was placed on administrative leave this week, according to the university.

In her absence, the department will be led by Interim Deputy Chief John Souza, previously a lieutenant at the department.

The university declined to comment on the reason for Martinez being put on leave, or the potential duration of her absence, however, the union representing the police officers at UMass Dartmouth issued a statement calling for her removal from the position earlier this year.

Martinez was also the subject of a “no confidence” vote by the union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 399, last year while acting as deputy police chief under Chief Emil Fioravanti, who was also named in the vote.

According to the union, 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 claimed there had been more than 20 grievances at the time, as well as multiple unfair labor practices, and several Equal Employment Opportunity and hostile working environment complaints filed since Martinez took over as chief in March 2021.

“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 March press release read.

Martinez could not be reached for comment.

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

The union said officers also expressed concern over whether Martinez 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 March 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.