BOSTON – Governor Baker tapped Lieutenant Colonel Christopher S. Mason as the next colonel and superintendent of the State Police, effective Friday, November 15th. At a press conference today in the State House, Mason identified a series of proposals to focus on accountability and conduct, increasing diversity within the agency, and updating training.
In remarks today, the 26-year veteran of the Department expressed his deep pride in New England’s largest police force as well as his commitment to modernizing it, including some initial first steps:
“At a pivotal time for Massachusetts State Police, Chris Mason has the experience and vision to lead the Department forward with reforms and innovation that will shape its future,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is grateful for the changes put in motion under Colonel Kerry Gilpin, and supports Colonel Mason as he completes critical reforms to finish Troop E internal affairs investigations and fully implement AVL technology and the body camera procurement. Drawing on his years of experience, we are confident Colonel Mason will lay out a vision for the Department’s future that will bring meaningful reform and restored public trust to the Commonwealth.”
“Colonel Mason’s decades-long and wide-ranging career in law enforcement has well equipped him to lead the Massachusetts State Police with integrity and dignity,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Governor Baker and I are appreciative of the hard work and commitment demonstrated by Colonel Kerry Gilpin and we look forward to our continued collaboration with the Massachusetts State Police and the new leadership Colonel Mason will bring to the department.”
“I look forward to a continued partnership with Colonel Mason, whose commitment to excellence has been evident in every position he’s held,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco. “He’s brought the highest levels of integrity and professionalism to the job as a trooper, an investigator, a commander, and an administrator. He understands the values of both tradition and reform, and he reflects an outstanding selection by Governor Baker.”
“I am grateful for the remarkable trust that Governor Baker and his Administration have placed in me,” said Colonel Mason. “I promise to earn that trust every day with the men and women of the Massachusetts State Police who reflect our values of honesty, integrity, and service. These values are foremost in my mind as we move the Department and our public safety mission forward.”
Mason currently serves as a lieutenant colonel and deputy superintendent of the Department of State Police. Prior to that, he commanded the Division of Investigative Services, a position in which he oversaw all State Police detective units and forensic personnel. He has also served as deputy commander of the Division of Homeland Security and Preparedness, acting as director of the Commonwealth Fusion Center and supervising the Cyber Crimes Unit, High Risk Victims Unit, Identification Section, and Fraud Identification Unit. Mason also worked for many years as a trooper, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and commanding officer for the Cape and Islands State Police Detective Unit, where he investigated homicides, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes.
Mason graduated from the State Police Academy in 1993 after serving as a natural resource officer in Barnstable for eight years. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and attended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Unit Commanders Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Fusion Center Leaders Program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College.
Update 1 p.m. - Statement from Retiring Superintendent Col. Kerry Gilpin:
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin released the following statement today regarding the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Mason as the next Colonel-Superintendent of the Department.
“I congratulate Lt. Colonel Christopher Mason upon his selection by Governor Baker as the next Colonel-Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. He is the right person to assume command of this Department as it continues to move forward with critically important reforms and solidifies the public trust needed to fulfill our mission. Anyone who has worked with Chris during his career can attest to his intelligence, insight, and creative approach to meeting and surmounting challenges, as well as to his deep commitment to this agency. When I assembled my senior command staff after being appointed Colonel two years ago, promoting Chris and naming him Division Commander of Investigative Services was one of my first moves. In January of this year, I named him Deputy Superintendent, in which he played a major role in helping institute the operational and fiscal improvements we have begun. I greatly valued his insight on countless topics. I have full confidence that he will continue the progress we made over the last two years and, through his own initiatives, continue to further enhance the Department’s ability to fulfill its vital mission.”
--Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent, Massachusetts State Police
Update 2:45 p.m. - Remarks by Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe:
This afternoon CCToday spoke with District Attorney Michael O'Keefe about Colonel Mason's time in the DA's office. "Colonel Mason worked in this office for seventeen years. Governor Baker made an excellent choice," said DA O'Keefe. "Colonel Mason's integrity, intelligence and deep knowledge of policing set him apart."
DA O'Keefe said that Col. Mason's leadership qualities are most impressive, "He makes everyone around him do a better job."
"Colonel Mason is the perfect leader for the Massachusetts State Police at this crucial time. He will continue the work of Colonel Gilpin. He will use his own considerable knowledge, experience and ideas to advance that work."
3:00 p.m. Update - Colonel Mason's Remarks Upon Appointment
From Governor Baker's office:
Governor Baker today announced that Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Mason will be appointed as the next Colonel-Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. Currently the Deputy Superintendent of Department, his appointment as Colonel-Superintendent is effective Friday, Nov. 15. Following the announcement, Lieutenant Colonel Mason gave the following remarks.
Thank you Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Secretary Turco for the opportunity to lead this agency and for the trust you have placed in me. I promise to fulfill that trust, and to earn it every day from the people of the Commonwealth with the men and women of the Massachusetts State Police.
The overwhelming number of Troopers deliver the highest level of service – shift by shift, hour by hour, call by call. They are proud of the work they do and the oath they take. From every level of the Department, they have consistently told me that they want to be the ones to rebuild the prestige and stature of the Massachusetts State Police. I have confidence in their ability to meet that goal, and I will commit every resource to helping them do so. The leadership team I assemble will support them and work alongside them to restore the public’s trust in the badge we wear.
We will look inward and outward as we pursue this mission. The State Police culture is in large part shaped at the State Police Academy. I will direct the academy staff to rely less on the paramilitary model and focus more on developing the skills necessary to navigate the modern policing environment. We will stress skills such as empathy, de-escalation, identification of vulnerable populations, and the response to emerging public safety threats. Make no mistake, however: the State Police Academy will remain as challenging and demanding as ever, and perhaps even more so.
Another focus of mine will be proactively seeking new opportunities to expand diversity within the Department. As a first step, I will direct the MSP Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity to immediately review our options for promoting female and minority members into key positions. The Department will continue to pursue more opportunities to expand recruitment and build a Department that better reflect all the communities we serve. I look forward to sharing more details on this process in the near future.
The public expects and deserves the very highest standards from its State Police. There is work we must do to close the gap between promise and performance. I will implement mandatory ethics training for all members, focusing on time and attendance and the duty to supervise -- issues at the heart of the failures at Troop E. I will ensure that all Troop E Internal Affairs investigations are completed, and that, where investigation finds wrongdoing, the cases for terminated or retired Troopers are referred to the State Retirement Board for pension forfeiture consideration.
The Massachusetts State Police has a proud and rich history. I embrace that history and I intend to carry it forward, which requires that we as a Department take pride in our strengths and identify our weaknesses. The diligence, innovation, and expertise that we bring to the table are second to none. I’m deeply proud of this organization, which is why I embrace an obligation to learn from mistakes, to correct them, and most importantly to ensure they do not occur again. We will not tolerate theft from the public or conduct inconsistent with our values. We will strive to ensure that the public receives the quality of personnel and services they have paid for and rightly expect.
I will work closely with Secretary Turco to expand the State Police Legal Section. This is crucial to my commitment to more timely disciplinary procedures and improved transparency through the 2,000+ public records requests we receive each year. We will continue with our efforts to improve efficiency, accountability, and officer safety through the use of Automated Vehicle Location technology in State police cruisers, and our through our pending procurement to deploy Body Worn Cameras and dashboard cameras. These efforts will depend in part on successful discussions with our union. Finally, we will continue to work with the embedded Office of the Inspector General’s Division of State Police Oversight to perform internal audits and track the Department’s progress toward accreditation at the state and national levels.
I am optimistic and energized about the future of the Massachusetts State Police. That optimism is based upon and supported by the incredibly brave and dedicated work that the State Police perform, individually and collectively. From our keeping roads and highways safe to investigating violent crime to performing vital anti-gang and narcotics work, they are some of the finest police professionals anywhere.
Today, I have introduced some key themes and initial reforms that I intend to get started on immediately. In the coming weeks, I plan to present additional reforms that will deepen the Department’s commitment to improve accountability, increase diversity, and restore public trust. I consider this opportunity to be the greatest gift of my professional life -- the opportunity to lead the men and women who serve and protect the Commonwealth. Thank you.