By Seth Daniel
Nine Revere police officers, all patrolmen, and one who is fighting the war in Iraq, have been laid off this month from their jobs at the department, bringing the top-heavy department to a contingent of 86 officers.
Six officers got the ax last Friday after a Civil Service hearing in City Hall, and that came just a few weeks after three officers weren’t hired after graduating from the Police Academy.
“Let’s put it this way – in 1997, we probably had a ballpark figure of 117 total officers,” said Officer Paul Crevoiserat, president of the Revere Police Patrolmen’s Association. “Prior to the layoff, we were probably at 94. Now, we’re down to 86. We do have a definite manpower issue. They withdrew me from the schools, Detective [Michael] Dello Russo from the detective unit and Officer Paul Lucero from the traffic unit and brought us back to the shift. They were attempting to fill in the empty spaces. There is only so far you can go with that, though.”
Those laid off starting this week were:
•Officer John Cafarelli
•Officer Michael Travato (who is currently deployed to Iraq)
•Officer Chris Palumbo
•Officer Emir Saric
•Officer Brian Misci
•Officer Pat Dusseault
Chief Terence Reardon could only shake his head at the news, noting that there just aren’t enough officers to cover a growing city like Revere.
“I’m down to 86,” he said. “That’s just not enough.”
Earlier this month, Mayor Tom Ambrosino announced to the City Council at a special public meeting that he would commence the layoffs as soon as possible unless the Patrolmen’s Association made several concessions in its existing contract.
The announcement was a surprise as the union had made a preliminary vote several months ago that was amenable to the mayor’s concessions.
Crevoiserat said after that first vote, things changed dramatically.
He said they were presented with a plan that would call for them to push back a 2 percent raise in July 2009 until 2010. There were also some promises made to officers planning to retire before 2010. All of that seemed to change at the last minute, he said.
“We took a [positive] vote and were willing to give the 2 percent,” he said. “What happened is the city or the mayor – wherever it came from – a memo came out to us with more concessions. We did have a vote on those concessions and it was 42-0 against it…The other four guys even voted against it, and they knew they were being laid off by their vote. The mayor wants to say he was precise and clear with us, but there wasn’t anyone there who had any other perception.”
Attorney Lawrence Christopher, who represents the union, said there was a difference between the initial presentation and the paperwork.
“When I got the paperwork, there was all this extra language in there about deferring other areas, like longevity and differential and stipends,” he said. “I initially thought the extra language was put in there by accident. Then when I called the mayor, he said it was correct and we could take it or leave it…There just was no meeting of the minds. That’s sad, because the last thing anyone wanted to do in the union was to lay off officers. It was unanimous, though. Even officers being laid off didn’t vote for the deferral, and they knew their vote was going to make them lose their jobs.”
At the public meeting this month, Mayor Ambrosino said anyone who didn’t hear his proposal correctly “wasn’t paying attention”.
In any case, the rift seems to have grown between the administration and the street level police officers.
At the same time, more serious criminal conduct seems to be picking up in the city.
How the city will cope is anyone’s guess.
“We’ve heard rumors that we’ll have more police layoffs in July,” said Crevoiserat. “I don’t know how that’s even possible.”