While the ranks in the Police Department have been depleted over the last few years, the City is now once again hiring – except now there’s a bit of controversy over whom is being hired.
Mayor Tom Ambrosino announced the hirings a few weeks back, indicating that the City would bypass the existing Civil Service list and wait until a new list is released from the state on Nov. 1st.
Police officers and many other City employees must be hired using the stringent Civil Service process, which is administered by the state government. However, City leaders have the ability to hire from the set list, or to bypass the list.
That decision by the mayor and Chief Terence Reardon to bypass the existing list has a number of local potential recruits – all who are on that list – a little upset.
One recruit, who is from Revere, said he received word in the mail that his name was being considered and was ready to interview, but nothing ever happened. It was a job he was really hoping to get.
He and his family said they were a little disturbed that the mayor and chief indicated there were no good candidates on the existing list.
They told the Journal that they wanted to remain anonymous for the moment.
Councillor Charlie Patch also took exception to the decision to wait.
He said that a family friend was on the list and is currently in Afghanistan on his third tour of duty, and Patch felt it wasn’t right to pass him up.
“To me, that is terrible,” Patch told the Journal, “because what’s happening is they charge $100 to take the test and those candidates are out $100. If you don’t think the first five names are any good…I would think you would keep at it instead of quitting. I think it’s the wrong process. You should keep going. These are all Revere residents.”
Mayor Tom Ambrosino said that he had requested the list in September and the police command staff began vetting those names – particularly Chief Reardon.
The mayor indicated that, of the top five names on the list, two were in Afghanistan, one failed a medical test, one failed a drug test and another had a medical issue that prevented employment as a police officer.
“I think after that the chief threw up his hands and decided to wait for the new list – and that’s perfectly acceptable,” said the mayor.
“At the end of the day, he decided not to hire any of them,” continued the mayor. “This is completely within our discretion. Frankly, there is some sentiment for getting the new list with the highest scoring people and going on. The vets on the current list that are in Afghanistan, we will likely have to consider them first.”
The mayor indicated that the new list would be merged with the old list, and that those on the old list would remain on the new list until March. Meanwhile, new names on the upcoming list will remain for two years.
Patch said it was a particularly disturbing move considering that the department is at an all-time low in staffing, and there is a police academy starting in November that could train potential officers from the old list.
“You would think they would have banged away at this as quick as possible,” said Patch. “I know there were good names on that list. I actually have a copy of it and I know some of these kids. They are good kids and we need more officers now. They tell us they have the money, but they can’t get them into the academy quick enough. There’s something not right here.”
The issue actually came to a head at Monday night’s Council meeting, where Patch put the question directly to the chief.
In a heated exchange, Reardon defended himself passionately, explaining that the situation isn’t so cut and dry.
He said that, first off, he had to contact all of the officers that have been laid off from the department in the last 10 years to give them first dibs. All of them declined the positions.
Next, he looked for lateral transfers and found one current officer willing to transfer to Revere. That officer looks to be ready for service within the next week.
Next, he reviewed the names on the current list. After going through 21 names, five of whom were interested, he said none qualified.
One was disqualified because he was colorblind, while another failed a drug test. Others didn’t work out either.
After a second call for more names, the most current list was forwarded to the chief.
“That list had 17 names on it and it’s the one that you keep referring to, I believe,” said the chief. “I checked into the first two names. One admitted that he needed to have shoulder surgery imminently and the other indicated she was seven months pregnant. After that we pulled the plug because we knew we couldn’t get them vetted and into that November academy.”
The chief went on to say that the new list will be more up-to-date and will get the best candidates, regardless of whom they are or whom they are connected to.
“These people on this current list are at the bottom of the list,” said Reardon. “All the disabled vets that were on this list have already been hired. They are all done on this list. You keep saying we need to hire the disabled vets. The new list will have disabled vets at the top and they will be from Revere. So, it’s a matter of which group of Revere people you want.”
Said Patch, “I feel for the people on that old list.”
“I do too,” said the Chief.
Retorted Patch, “Well, evidently you didn’t.”