By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Once again Mayor Brian Arrigo’s discussion of the police chief position has prompted criticism from Councillor George Rotondo.
Arrigo attended Monday night’s council meeting to update the council on an amendment that seeks to allow Arrigo to accept outside candidates for the police chief position. Arrigo asked for the police chief position be exempt from Chapter 31 of Massachusetts General Laws, which covers the Civil Service system. In the end the council voted to send the mayor’s request to the council’s Public Safety Subcommittee for further discussion.
“You have before you an amendment I would like to see pass, and it would give me the flexibility,” Arrigo said. “I am not looking for a vote right away.”
Prior to the meeting, the mayor submitted two years of emails and records to show the former administration’s work with the Collins Center on the Revere Police Department. The emails confirm discussions between former Mayor Dan Rizzo, his assistant Miles Kennedy and Kym Craven, a consultant from the Collins Center who worked on the police department report. The emails also confirm the payment of $25,000 for the report, $20,000 paid from one fiscal year and $5,000 from another. Many emails go back and forth asking for meeting times. The emails also appear to be duplicates of each other.
Yesterday, Rizzo said what has been called as a police survey was to be a strategic plan for the police department to be used as an assessment tool. It was not a report on the department.
“I requested the report but I never saw it,” he said. “It was supposed to be an assessment of the department.”
“The facts around the 2015 report are well-documented,” Arrigo said, adding his commitment to the Revere Police Department remains true. “All I can do is present the facts and that’s exactly what we have done.”
Arrigo said he has been on ride-alongs with the police department, he has spoken to members of the department, and stressed how the department continues to protect the city and keep people safe.
“This is about the safety of the residents,” Arrigo said. “Saying we want to be the best, this isn’t rhetoric, it’s a goal.”
Arrigo said another step that he is taking is a community survey which will be sent out to the general public and should be out soon. This will give residents a chance to give their feedback.
“My goal is to move forward with solutions,” Arrigo said.
When Arrigo finished speaking, Rotondo began questioning the police study report done under the Rizzo administration. Then he asked about emails between the consultant and Rizzo.
Council Vice President Patrick Keefe warned Rotondo about long diatribes, and asked him to ask his questions. He continued to go on about memos. Keefe gaveled Rotondo.
“We’re not going to have a back and forth,” Keefe said, continuing to use the gavel to maintain decorum.
“I am being shut down,” Rotondo said.
Keefe reminded everyone that all the information that they have been presented with will be sent to the Public Safety subcommittee.
Arrigo said he has spoken to both police unions and they were appreciative.
“We want their feedback,” Arrigo said.
Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch, a former Revere Police Officer said “if they don’t agree, I hope you’ll work out another solution.”
Rotondo questioned the use of the firm Ryan Strategies in the review. He mentioned the involvement of Chelsea Police Chief Brian Keys at Ryan Strategies, and the fact that Revere Police Chief James Guido’s son on the Chelsea police force.
“It gives the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Rotondo said. He said Ryan Strategies has only existed since 2016 and in his opinion lacks performance and educational background.
Rotondo asked another question, and the mayor stepped to the podium to answer, but Vice President Keefe gaveled them both an said the meeting was moving on.