Police Log Altered In Incident Involving A Vehicle Registered to Selectman Mary Power
By Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff; October 27, 2020
Cover from report by Matthews & Matthews, LLC dated October 21, 2020
Matthews & Matthews, LLC conducted an investigation into an incident that took place on Friday, June 5, 2020 at Derby Street Shops. Hingham resident Dan Nardo requested a copy of the report. He had become aware of rumors that a police log entry had been altered in an apparent attempt to change the nature of an incident involving a car registered to Selectman Mary Power.
Officer Christopher LoBianco of the Hingham Police Department was working a special detail at the shopping plaza that night. The Hingham Police Department had received intelligence from the Massachusetts State Police and the Braintree Police Department alerting them to "people from possible Antifa like groups or other groups" who might be parking their vehicles in remote shopping malls, protesting in Boston and then returning to their cars and causing damage in the areas in which they had parked “to bring their cause further out so it got recognition."
LoBianco noted that the Apple store had even boarded up its windows and said that "the (Derby Street) shops made a collective agreement to hire two police details for a number of nights until possibly the situation quieted down." However, he was the only officer working the shift that night.
It was during his patrol of the parking area, which he described as “sparse” because most businesses were closed due to COVID, that LoBianco noticed a car had been following him. When he parked, he said that the driver of the other vehicle, a male wearing a tshirt and baseball cap, had parked 20-30 feet away from him facing in the direction of his driver side door.
The man waved at LoBianco several times and pointed at him then proceeded to lift up a large cardboard sign with white paper covering it which read “Black Lives Matter” alongside a picture of a fist. “He said the operator of the vehicle then took the sign and pressed it against the windshield flush and pointed at him several times,” the report said. “Officer LoBianco stated he then retrieved a pair of binoculars in order to better see the vehicle registration.”
When interviewed, the driver told investigators that he had the sign in the car because he was planning on attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Hingham the next day. A protest was, in fact, held at the Harbor on Saturday, June 6th.
At 6:37 p.m., Officer LoBianco made a call to dispatch to report the suspicious activity and mentioned that the car was registered to Selectman Mary Power. He asked that the information be documented for informational purposes only so it could be looked back on later if something else were to happen. Former Police Chief Glenn Olsson heard the transmission on his police radio.He immediately called dispatch and asked Dispatcher Allison Graham about the call.
"Who is dealing with that call?" asked Olsson. "I need to know quick. Because that could be the selectmen."
Olsson was transferred to Dispatcher Joseph Delvecchio. He asked the dispatcher for the address so he could confirm Power's identity. "Stand by for me one second, Chief," Delvecchio replied. "I'm putting the info in right now."
"Yeah well may not want the info in there, if it is the selectmen," responded Olsson. "I may not want a job."
Chief Olsson told Dispatcher Delvecchio to wait and proceeded to call the front desk at the station. He spoke with Lt. Sean Cavanaugh about LoBianco's handling of the incident involving Power's car. "He shouldn't be saying it's suspicious and it has Black Lives Matter signs in it," Olsson said. "What's he, f...g nuts?"
Cavanaugh went on to defend LoBianco's response, but Olsson appeared confused. "He doesn't recognize the name Mary Power?" he asked. "He better. You know. If he wants a job."
Matthews & Matthews conducted interviews with all of the parties involved. In their findings they stated that "Chief Olsson told Dispatcher Delvecchio to change the description of party waving a Black Lives Matter sign to party waving a sign." They also noted that "Chief Olsson believed that the use of the term Black Lives Matter in the brief narrative of a suspicious activity log report was not warranted because he did not want the public perception to be that the Hingham Police were pursuing people for having a Black Lives Matter sign."
In her interview, Selectman Power stated that she did not learn of the incident involving her vehicle until the end of July when she was made aware of Nardo's public records request for the police log. She also said that she was not part of any discussions between Chief Olsson and Town Officials concerning Olsson's retirement. Instead, she was told by Town Administrator Tom Mayo that conversations were taking place between the town and the chief. Then, on Sunday, August 2nd at 9:45 p.m., Power received a call from Mayo letting her know that Olsson would be submitting his retirement letter the next day, and in fact he did.
After months of back-and-forth with the town's administration, Nardo was pleased to be able to put the issue to rest. "The Town has satisfied my request for public records concerning this matter," he said. "The Town conducted an independent investigation that concluded Mary Power did not try to cover up the incident. I believe this information to be true and correct.