This is Billerica Deputy Police Chief Roy Frost, who currently sits at the top of the list to become Chief after the July resignation of Chief Dan Rosa.
In 2015 Frost was driving through town when he saw State Trooper Steve Viola working a detail on Salem Road. Viola at the time was fighting cancer, which took his life in 2017. Frost didn’t know who Viola was so he called Sgt. John Zarro and left a voicemail, comparing Viola to an Auschwitz prisoner.
“He literally looks like he’s about to fall over and die. I don’t know if he’s a chemotherapy patient or he just got out of Auschwitz. But I’ve never seen this guy in a uniform before, and he makes Harley Davidson look like Schwarzenegger.”
A whistle blowing Billerica cop and union organizer named John Hickey exposed the tape in 2015 and quickly became the target of the BPD higher ups for doing so. Later that year Hickey’s bosses sought to have him terminated for an incident that occurred at the Elks Club in 2010, which suddenly became relevant. During that incident Hickey’s girlfriend got into an argument with another woman and Hickey went to confront her. In the video, which the town used to try to fire him, you can see the woman’s boyfriend stand up before Hickey pushes him and the two of them get into an altercation that gets broken up quickly. You can watch that tape here.
Chief Rosa called it a “vicious assault,” which it clearly was not after watching that video. You can certainly call it unbecoming of an officer, and Hickey definitely has rage issues. However, this happened five years prior, and the only reason Rosa and BPD brass suddenly had a problem with it was because Hickey had posted the tape of Frost calling Trooper Viola an Auschwitz prisoner.
Hickey was fired, and in 2016 he accepted a plea deal for the incident and agreed that the charges would be dropped if he stayed out of trouble during a two year probation period. However, in December of 2016 domestic violence assault charged were filed against Hickey by BPD, which were ultimately dropped because his girlfriend said a police report on the incident was “inaccurate.”
In 2017 Hickey was reinstated and allowed to retire after his lawyer played the voicemail left by Deputy Police Chief Frost.
The Board of Selectmen heard that tape and took no action against Frost. He is now the front runner to be named Police Chief, according to Town Manager John Curran.
You can think what you want about Hickey, and certainly he seems to be a temperamental liability as a police officer. But the BPD brass knew this, and was OK with it until he released the Frost voicemail. If he was such a danger then why would they allow him to have a badge and a gun for 5 years? Why would they suddenly be concerned about him after he released this tape?
Hickey’s prosecution for the Elks Club incident was a direct result of his whistle blowing, and should be cause for alarm for everyone in town. I’m not one for cancel culture, but people have been fired for a lot less than comparing a state trooper battling cancer to a Holocaust victim on a government issued phone. Frost was never reprimanded for that though. Instead it was swept under the rug and now he’s in line to become the Chief of Police. Even more concerning is his willingness to use police powers to prosecute someone as a direct result of whistle blowing. If people in town feel as if they’ll be fired or cancelled for bringing forth allegations against powerful people then they are not free. Leadership in town is well aware of all of this and is choosing to ignore it.
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