Abington Police continue to investigate one of their own, but there are still few details being made available.
The lone public indication of the ongoing investigation is that the department’s popular comfort dog, Harlow, has a new handler.
“There’s an active internal investigation. Beyond that, I have no further comment at this time,” said Abington Police Chief David Del Papa.
An Abington police officer was implicated in September in a scandal originating in the Stoughton Police Department.
An internal investigation by the Stoughton Police Department determined that former officers Matthew Farwell, William Farwell, and Robert Devine had inappropriate relationships with a young woman whom they met through the department’s youth explorers program. The report says Matthew Farwell had an inappropriate relationship with her starting when the girl was 15 and he was 27, but did not go into the specifics of that relationship. She was pregnant when she took her own life in February 2021.
The Abington officer, who started his career in a non-police role in Stoughton, was interviewed by investigators twice, including once at Abington Town Hall this past February. The first interview ended with the officer requesting to bring in legal counsel, according to the report.
The Stoughton report is heavily redacted in areas making it difficult to know the exact nature of the Abington officer’s relationship with the young woman; Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara described it during a press conference in September as “inappropriate.”
The report leaves a name unredacted that coincides with the last name of an Abington police officer, but Del Papa has declined to confirm if that was the officer involved.
Del Papa said the Stoughton Deputy Chief told him in December 2021 the now- Abington officer was a material witness in the ongoing investigation, but that he couldn’t get into specifics. Del Papa asked whether the officer should be placed on administrative leave and was told no. The Stoughton Deputy Chief also told Del Papa at that time he would let him know if the officer’s status in the investigation changed. Del Papa said he was notified that the officer was facing allegations the week the department finalized the report. The Abington officer has been on paid administrative leave since then.
Abington Town Manager Scott Lambiase said the investigation was active but couldn’t give a time frame when it might be resolved.
Meanwhile, Harlow, a support dog obtained by the department earlier this year, has a new handler. Because police dogs and their handlers are trained as a team, and the dog lives with the police officer when not on duty, it’s unusual to swap handlers during the dog’s career.
In recent weeks, Harlow has been seen at public events with Officer Gladys Morgan. Lambiase confirmed that Morgan has been given Harlow on an interim basis, and that the pair has gone through additional training together.
“We didn’t want Harlow just sitting around the police station,” he said.
Lambiase said because Morgan has been named an interim school resource officer that it made sense to reassign Harlow to her.