Paul E. Johnson, Harvard's newly appointed director of security and police, lashed out yesterday against assertions that he took the job because he was under fire in his previous job as an area commander in the Boston Police Department.
The allegations, published yesterday by The Boston Globe and attributed to unnamed "sources" in the Boston Police Department implied that Johnson was unable to run police operations under his authority effectively and accepted the Harvard position to avoid an impending--and unfavorable--re-assignment. "Someone is obviously trying to do a job on me," Johnson responded yesterday.
Johnson was under attack from community leaders in the areas of Roxbury and Dorchester that were under his command. The Globe reported, because the police were unable to stem the area's large drug trade. The community sources reportedly attributed the failure to Johnson's inability to work well with his subordinates.
The new chief denied that he ever had any trouble with subordinates and said he accepted the top position at Harvard because of its merits, not because he felt he had to. "I don't know where that came from," Johnson said, referring to the alleged problems with officers under his command. "I never had any problems with subordinates at all," he added.
Harvard officials contacted yesterday unanimously defended Johnson.
"It [the allegations] is a very unfair attack on the fellow," said University Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54.
Steiner chaired the six-member search committee that selected Johnson after an eight-week national search. Steiner made the official announcement of Johnson's selection on Thursday.
The inability of the former Harvard Police Cheif David I. Gorski to deal with his staff created severe internal divisions within the department in the mid-1970s. Low morale among the officers is generally accepted as a significant factor behind Gorski's departure from the department in the 1978.
"We have checked his performance and background quite completely and are satisfied that he has the skills that we need," Steiner added.
"I'm confident that there are no facts in his background that will emerge later that will embarrass him. He's a superb selection," added Assistant Dean of the College Marlyn M. Lewis, who was also a member of the search committee.
Officials in the Boston Police Department were reluctant to comment on questions about Johnson today.
Officers at District B headquarters, which Johnson will continue to command until he assumes his Harvard position on December 6th, referred queries to Commissioner of Police Joseph Jordan.
Jordan did not return repeated calls to his home and office yesterday.
Officers in the Harvard Police Department contacted yesterday said they were reserving judgment on Johnson until they meet him.
Johnson has only met a handful of the department's commanding officers to date, at a series of introductory meetings conducted Thursday.
Patrolmen said, however, that they were not affected by the assertions printed yesterday.
"You can't always believe what you read," explained one officer.
Acting Chief of Police Captain Jack W. Morse refused to comment yesterday.
On Thursday, Morse said he was "pleased to hear of commander Johnson's appointment. I look forward to working with him."
Saul L. Chafin, outgoing chief of Harvard Police, said in an interview on Thursday that he was "very pleased" to hear of Jonson's selection.
Johnson was highly recommended by chairman, selection committee members said yesterday.