After a whirlwind of a week at the top of the Revere Police chain of command, Lt. Joe Cafarelli emerged on top Monday morning when Mayor Dan Rizzo tapped him to be the new Acting Chief of Police.
The 20-year veteran was gracious and confident in the appointment, which is a temporary appointment until a full process can be played out.
After thanking former Chief Terence Reardon and pledging his support to part of the Revere Police contingent gathered in the City Council Chambers, Rizzo officially announced his selection.
“I am very, very proud today to take part in a new era of leadership by the swearing in of Lt. Joe Cafarelli as I believe that he has all the necessary skills and the same philosophy as I know I do to lead the department forward,” he said.
With several City Councillors and Mayor Rizzo flanking him, Cafarelli took the oath of office from City Clerk Ashley Melnik.
He followed that up with a short, prepared speech in which he pledged to take the department in a new direction.
“We are going to strengthen our relationship between the Revere Police Department and the community,” he said after taking the oath. “We will provide safer neighborhoods through a more visible and more pro-active police presence.”
It was a concise end to what has been a lingering situation that began more than two weeks ago when there started to be whispers around the City that former Chief Reardon might be ousted from his post in short order.
Those whispers soon transformed into loud screams.
It was no secret that Rizzo and Reardon had never gotten along famously or agreed on policing philosophies over the years, but most thought that the Chief would ride out his contract, which was due to expire in August, and then a new leader would be selected.
Instead, a boiling point became evident last week with Reardon being ousted “reluctantly” and others within the command staff voicing their disapproval.
It was reported that some superior officers in the former command staff threatened to sue the City in court upon a private announcement to the entire police force. It was also said that there was a fair amount of discord at that same meeting, and none of the former leaders on the force attended Monday’s swearing-in – for whatever reason that might have been.
Some City Councillors also didn’t take warmly to the method of the departmental shake up, saying privately that they had some reservations about the way things were done.
On Thursday morning, Reardon issued his own press release – perhaps unauthorized – to the media announcing his immediate resignation.
“In the past few weeks it has become clear to me that the Rizzo administration wishes to go in a different direction in regard to management of the Revere Police Department,” he wrote. “Therefore, effective immediately, I am reluctantly resigning my position as Chief in order for the administration to proceed in that direction…The mayor has stated that public safety will be his top priority in the new administration and I hope, for the good of the community and for the Department, that his commitment will be supported in order for it to be realized.”
Reardon indicated that he would stay on as a captain within the department, and sources indicated he needs about four or five more years of service to retire with the maximum pension.
Despite all of the drama, by Monday many had warmed up to the idea – though none of the former command staff was present at the swearing in ceremony, perhaps signaling a bit of an initial rift from those superior officers that got jumped over by Cafarelli.
Following the ceremony, Mayor Rizzo said that he felt like he just couldn’t let Reardon’s contract ride out until August and that he had to do something to send the department a message indicating he wanted to go in a positive and orderly direction.
“I just felt the rank-and-file right up through the senior officers were not clear on what direction the department was going in,” he said. “They didn’t have clear direction.”
Rizzo also said that he felt now was the time to take action, even if it meant ruffling some feathers in the process.
“I think at this time new leadership in the department is necessary,” he told reporters. “During my campaign it was clear to me residents felt there had been a breakdown in leadership. Through my own observations within the department, this just made sense at this point in time. I don’t want to go down the road where I have negative things to say about the former chief. The former chief did the best he could with the resources he had.”
And he continued by saying that Cafarelli would be the person, in his estimation, to restore order to a department that has had its share of negative publicity.
“Without going down the road of putting the former chief down, what I’m sure [Cafarelli] will do is from his position down, there will be more accountability and more of a chain of command followed,” said Rizzo. “We saw stories even in the mainstream press where there was some sort of breakdown in leadership, sometimes from the former chief himself. Unfortunately, we need to get a grasp of everything going on in the department. Joe has been around long enough to understand the problem and to rectify it.”
Even so, Rizzo was adamant about wanting an Assessment Center – which would likely consist of four or five public safety professionals with no ties to Revere who would evaluate all candidates. Conducting the Center is estimated to cost around $15,000 to $20,000.
He said that he would have to request funding for the Center from the City Council, and he also wants the ability to choose candidates from outside the City.
Nevertheless, he said his personal choice was made this week.
“To be quite honest, my hope and dream is it would end up being Chief Cafarelli,” said Rizzo. “I don’t want it to be some decision made without a professional process that seems like a political appointment. People have had it with politics to tell you the truth. That’s why I want the permanent chief to go through a professional Assessment Center. I don’t want people to think this is a political appointment.”
Rizzo said he hopes that the permanent chief would be in place within four to six months.