Over the strong objections of one city councillor, the City Council followed the desire of Mayor Dan Rizzo and pushed through the permanent, five-year appointment of Acting Chief Joe Cafarelli on Monday night.
Rizzo had taken swift action in February to appoint Cafarelli as acting chief and to demote former Chief Terence Reardon. At the time Rizzo was insistent on conducting a professional Assessment Center where councillors and members of the public would be able to ask questions of several different applicants, including Cafarelli.
All that was waived Monday night, and the Council even agreed to move the permanent appointment through its body on the spot, instead of sending it through its normal course.
“I hope and trust this is not going to be a blemish on the Revere City Council,” said Rizzo, after some objection was made to hurrying up the appointment. “He’s been chief for the last five months and I know most of you have had interactions with him and I think maybe have been able to observe him…I strongly felt I wanted to be 100 percent comfortable with this appointment and wanted to go forward with an Assessment Center. Really, the employees of the Police Department and residents of this city became my Assessment Center. Why am I going to spend $25,000 or $30,000 on an Assessment Center when I can get feedback like that? I believe in following protocol, but this is not a new appointment.”
Those comments followed some fiery comments by Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Reardon – brother of the former chief – concerning the appointment process.
“It seems to me it legitimizes less this appointment because we don’t follow at least the simple process required by our rules, sending this to the Appointments Committee,” said Reardon. “Councillor Guinasso just a few weeks ago was bemoaning the fact that appointments weren’t going to the Committee and now tonight he wants to forego his Committee process on this very important appointment. Now the top law enforcement office of the city is going to be rubber-stamped…I don’t see the rush. Why the hurry up?
“If the process isn’t followed, it will open up the old adage of ‘Politics as usual in Revere,’” Reardon continued. “We have a process and the process is not followed. Instead, we railroad this very important matter through this body.”
While other councillors agreed privately with Reardon, so it seemed, he was alone in going public with those comments. Everyone supported Cafarelli and, instead of fighting for the process, felt okay with giving into Rizzo’s wishes.
Councillor Tony Zambuto said he supported having an Assessment Center, but didn’t feel it was necessary in this case.
“I don’t see how deviating from the normal process will hurt,” he said. “It’s not like the appointment came up tonight and we haven’t had four months to observe him.”
Others spoke of a noticeable change in the Police Department and the improved morale of the force. Most everyone felt that Cafarelli had made a tremendous turnaround on the force in just a few short months.
“I’ve seen a whole new attitude in the Police Department,” said Councillor Ira Novoselsky.
In the end, only two questions were asked of the Chief prior to his five-year appointment being authorized. Those questions came from Councillors Jessica Giannino and John Powers and dealt with staffing on the drug/traffic units and the expansion of motorcycle officers.
The appointment was approved by a vote of 10-0. Councillor Charlie Patch was absent due to an ongoing recovery from a surgical procedure.
After the appointment, Chief Cafarelli gave some short remarks to the Council.
“I had a speech prepared, but this has to come from the heart,” he said. “With respect to Councillor Reardon, I have spent my life abiding by rules and enforcing rules, so I certainly understand following the rules and respect that…A lot of people have been talking tonight about accolades and positive comments they’ve heard. It’s easy to get those when you have good people. I have some of the best. I have good people and have no complaints about my officers.”
Cafarelli’s permanent chief appointment began on Tuesday morning.