Councillors Get Into Heated Debate Over Potential Police Reorganization

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

It seemed like the Fourth of July with rockets going in every direction at Monday’s night meeting of the City Council.

Councillor George Rotondo put in a motion at the City Council meeting Monday night to have the city council go on record for a vote of confidence for Police Chief Joseph Cafarelli, who ends his position with the Revere Police.

The request was met with mixed reaction and sometimes heated debate with Councillor Joanne McKenna urging her colleagues “to cut it out.”

Mayor Brian Arrigo opted not to renew Cafarelli’s contract. Arrigo has stated that he is doing a top to bottom reorganization of the police department. With Cafarelli leaving,  Arrigo chose Capt. James Guido as interim chief. Guido and three other internal candidates were tested through an assessment center run by the police chief of Arlington. Arrigo will not rule out going outside of the city to find a permanent police chief. A special counsel, Matt Buckley, has been working with the city on union negotiations and personnel issues.

Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso said every mayor has selected a police chief.

“As a former mayor you want your own team,” said Council President Robert Haas Jr. “I’ve never seen someone reorganize like Arrigo. He sits with every department head.”

Haas also said the mayor made a smart decision.

“I’m sure all the candidates were worthy of appointment,” Haas said.

Former Mayor Dan Rizzo, who appointed Cafarelli to his position, spoke at the meeting Monday night.

“Chief Cafarelli righted the ship,” Rizzo said. “Cafarelli will be going to Dallas in two weeks to speak about community policing.”

Rizzo questioned the use of an assessment center and reminded everyone not to fool around with the chief’s position.

“Think about what’s going on in public safety,” Rizzo said.

Councillor Anthony Zambuto said he was disappointed Cafarelli was leaving but he would support the mayor.

“Capt. Guido is a good appointment for stability,” Zambuto said. “i have mixed emotions on going outside the city, but it is a mayoral appointment.”

Councillor Jessica Giannino said Cafarelli is a nationally recognized police chief with over 20 years of experience.

“He’s one of the best chiefs in the country,” she said.

She added that Arrigo inherited years and years of problems.

”It’s not a reflection on him its a reflection on the problems,” she said. “We voted for the Mayor and we trust the Mayor.”

A supporter of Cafarelli and former Revere Police Officer Ward 6 Charles Patch said it’s the mayor right to choose a chief.”

He is not fond of going outside the city to seek a new chief and would favor opening up the pool of candidates down to sergeant. The recent pool of candidates included captains and lieutenants.

“I’ve seen many departments try and they’ve been unsuccessful,” Patch said.

Powers said the search may go outside the city and thinks the city “might find someone exceptional.”

By appointing an interim chief Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe thinks it gives the mayor more time to decide on a permanent choice.

Councillor Jessica Giannino said she has known Guido all her life. She thinks the change is sad and that Cafarelli “is one of the best chiefs in the country.

“I know this has been a lifelong dream for Guido,” Guinasso said, favoring a Revere candidate. “The council confirms the final candidate when he is selected.”

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