RPD Union Voices Opposition to Reorganization

November 21, 2012
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Hard feelings are brewing this week between one Revere Police Department (RPD) union and Mayor Dan Rizzo, as the mayor potentially investigates a reorganization of the department that union officials feel is going to politicize policing.

In a letter to the mayor and submitted to the Journal on Monday, the RPD Superior Officers Union took a vocal stand in opposing a plan to eliminate two Civil Service captain positions and add two appointed Deputy Chief positions.

“Our union regrettably agreed to allow removing the Chief’s position from Civil Service several years ago with the understanding that an assessment center would be used to select the police chief,” read the letter signed by the union. “The City never held up their part of the agreement and chose not to have an assessment center. It also appears that we are about to be confronted with two Deputy Chiefs selected entirely on the basis of politics. Mr. Mayor, policing must be free from politics and all that it entails.

“It is our position that no changes are necessary to the current rank structure of the Department, and that if it ever becomes necessary to change the rank structure, any changes must be free from politics,” continued the letter.

Mayor Dan Rizzo’s office had not even floated the idea publicly, and no changes have been discussed with the City Council yet. To date, only a few scant rumors have been talked about in gossip circles. On Monday, the Mayor’s Office would only say that restructuring the department in some way is critical.

“The restructuring of the Revere Police Department is critical to their future success,” said Mayor Rizzo. “Public Safety will continue to be a priority of this administration. All decisions made will be in the best interest of the entire police department and the general public.”

Charlie Patch, City Council Public Safety Committee chair, said he hadn’t been informed of any formal plan to reorganize.

“I really can’t comment on it right now because I haven’t seen any plan in writing from the administration,” he said. “So far, all I’ve heard are rumors.”

The Superior Officers Union letter also addressed the circumstances around making Chief Joe Cafarelli the permanent chief. That decision came after Cafarelli had been made acting chief and with the promise that an assessment center would be conducted.

“This letter is not a negative statement about the person you selected,” read the letter. “However, no one can say objectively that he is the best person for the job. The result was that all the lieutenants and captains who were eligible and who seek to advance their careers were never even considered for the promotion.”

With that as the foundation of the new administration’s public safety policy, the union said it makes it all the more alarming that the Deputy Chief plan is being considered.

“The creation of Deputy Chief position outside of Civil Service is very alarming,” read the letter. “If there were truly a need for Deputy Chief positions they should be selected fairly through an objective procedure like the Civil Service process or a professional assessment center. Civil Service, albeit imperfect, was created to remove politics from policing. Anyone educated in local government police management knows well the evils of mixing politics with policing.”

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