July 20, 2010 01:17 PM
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff
A decorated Stoughton patrolman has resigned from the department after internal affairs investigations found that he left his patrol to meet a stripper billed as "the world's smallest porn star" and that he modified his service pistol by adding a laser-sighting device, the police chief said today.
Officer Richard P. Bennett submitted a one-paragraph resignation letter on June 30 and promptly left the department, said Chief Paul J. Shastany, who became chief on April 5 of a force that has been battered for nearly a decade by scandals and corruption charges.
Shastany, who had worked in the Framingham and Natick police departments for 34 years and had vowed to restore Stoughton's reputation, said he was proud of his officers, not embarrassed. Bennett's colleagues, he said, reported the officer's misdeeds to the department, prompting two separate internal affairs investigations.
"This is a classic example of the organization policing itself,'' he said. "This surgically quick removal was a very beneficial thing for the organization."
Bennett, 28, of Fall River, was not immediately available for comment.
The patrolman, who has been on the force about two years and received a commendation last month for helping to quickly secure a murder scene, committed two forms of misconduct, said Shastany.
First, he deserted his post last month and went to Club Alex's, a strip club in Stoughton, said Shastany. He spoke to a manager at the club and arranged to have a 3-foot-9-inch stripper known as Bridget "The Midget" Powers to meet him outside so he could be photographed with her while he was in uniform.
"This brings discredit and shame on an organization," said Shastany, 55. If people in the community saw Bennett posing with the stripper, he said, "What's the takeaway? Is that something where people say, 'Oh, that's awesome, look at the community policing'? I am frankly livid that that's something an officer thinks he could get away with."
In a separate case of misconduct last month, Bennett was spotted by other officers with a laser-sighting device on his .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic service pistol, Shastany said. The officers reported it to the department's armorer, who told the internal affairs investigator. But when the investigator confronted Bennett, Shastany said, the officer initially denied doctoring his pistol before admitting that he had lied.
Shastany said officers are forbidden from modifying their weapons without permission and that he was unaware of any officers who have gotten approval to add laser-sighting devices to their pistols. But just as unforgivable as the modification, said Shastany, was Bennett's lie.
"We bring ourselves to court to testify and, potentially, take liberty and freedom from some people," said Shastany. "An officer that's not truthful is basically unable to perform his duties. He can't testify. He's of no use to me."
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