As last week’s Mayoral Debate chugged on in the Whelan School Auditorium, no one was more surprised by one of the questions than Police Chief Terence Reardon.
The question, put directly to both Dan Rizzo and George Rotondo, was whether or not they would keep the Chief in place if elected.
Given a series of problems in the department over the last few years, the question has been a giant pink elephant floating in the room for some time during this election.
At that moment in the debate, both were expected to bring that elephant down from ceiling.
And the answer from both was probably not what most expected.
While Rizzo didn’t directly say what choices he would make if elected, he also didn’t give a definite vote of support for the current chief. In other words, he never came out definitively for keeping Chief Reardon, but also didn’t say he would change leadership.
Meanwhile, Rotondo made no bones about the fact that he would go outside the City of Revere to choose a new chief.
“I like Chief Reardon, but I think we need a change,” he said during the debate.
Rotondo later clarified his position, saying no one is allowed by law to terminate the chief’s contract, and the chief is currently under contract. He said that he does stand by the statement that he will seek leadership outside the city once that contract is concluded.
“My statement at the debate stands as is, but I will honor any contract the City has entered into with the Chief,” he said. “There is a contract with the Chief now and I will honor that. What troubles me most is the question that was asked at the debate and how it was presented. It’s not a fair question for Dan or I to answer because it’s not nice to have to talk about that in public.”
Reardon said he was at home during the debate, but got quick word via his cell phone.
“My phone started ringing off the hook as soon as they said it,” he said.
Reardon said he has spoken with both candidates and Rizzo has told him that he didn’t want to get into personalities during the campaign, and Rotondo has said to him that he would maintain Chief’s contract.
Needless to say, Reardon said it is disappointing to have to defend himself given the lot he has drawn over the last 10 years.
“The police department has been reduced by one-third since I’ve been here,” he said. “Our population has gone up and crime has actually gone down. There are more people and less crime.
“I can only do so much with what we have and what I’m giving to work with,” he continued. “Our biggest problem is lack of personnel. Anytime you cut 30 percent of an organization, there’s going to be a problem with production.”
He said that he’s confident in his record, but realizes that records don’t matter much when confronted with politics.
“I know what I do here,” he said. “The people who work with me and close to me know what I really do and what we all try to do here – how we work with the community and the community groups…I am very, very confident that I have a strong record to stand on. Whether that’s considered or not is another story.”
Reardon said, “The worst case scenario is that I would go back to being a captain.