LETTER: Former Councilor Concerned About Process to Choose Police Chief

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Open letter :

I am respectfully requesting that the Town Councillors request that the Town Manager implement the standardized Civil service exam for Chief of Police. Watertown implemented the standardized exam for over 70 years when the Town Manager threw it out and replaced it with Role Playing and Assessment Center i.e. -when appointing Chief Deveau. It is most fair that a chief be chosen from the civil service exam based on Police knowledge. One of the questions asked in the role playing section to the applicants for Chief was : ‘How would you handle a complaint from a member of the Town Council? In fairness to anyone who applies-please request the Manager to return to the Standardized civil service exam that is also objective – not subjective.

I was pleased to see that Town Manager Driscoll adhered to the Massachusetts State statute in appointing a CAPTAIN according to the law – Captain Raymond Dupuis. The state statute dictates that the appointing authority (Town Manager ) SHALL appoint the highest ranking officer next to the Chief as acting chief – which is a captain.

The town manager is mandated to appoint a captain.

Years back when Chief Kelly left, the Town Manager Driscoll violated state law and appointed a sergeant who he had appointed an “acting lieutenant.” (He never took a lieutenant’s exam.) The Massachusetts General Laws requires the Town Manager to appoint the highest ranking officer – a captain – who at that time was Charlie Jacoppo – the ONLY captain at that time.

Before he appointed an acting chief, Mr. Driscoll appointed Captain Jacoppo “Captain In charge” of the police Department – (there is no such position as “in charge”). Morale was never better. In the four months he served, Captain Jacoppo had the respect of all the department and the citizens of Watertown. He was respectful, capable and well-qualified.

Whenever any municipal employee is given additional duties, the Manager gives them extra pay – but not for Charlie! Charlie did not get an extra penny – he was running the Police Department. Four months later, the Town Manager did not appoint Charlie as Acting Chief. The Town Manager appointed the sergeant that he made “acting lieutenant” (who had previously announced that he was planning to retire that year). After a short time as Acting Chief, the “acting” lieutenant did retire that year with a huge boost in his retirement as he went out based on Chief’s pay with continuing increases throughout the future years with this position of Chief of Police.

The Town manager violated Mass General Law twice. He bypassed the rightful appointee – a captain – who was Captain Jacoppo, and secondly, violated another state law reaching down two ranks to someone in an “acting” position.” According to Massachusetts General Laws, someone in an “acting” position shall not be appointed to another “acting” position – Chief.

When Captain Jacoppo asked permission of the Council President to go into executive session with the Council – he was refused-that was wrong – Captain Jacoppo’s rights were violated (a violation of Massachusetts General Laws). Captain Jacoppo applied for the Chief’s position and was not appointed. Who do we count on to assure any manager is adhering to state laws? We can never make up the illegal, unethical way Captain Jacoppo was treated.

I remember a resident saying to me at that time when the Manager appointed the acting chief – a Sergeant who had been designated as an “Acting Lieutenant”.
The resident said: “He never took a lieutenant’s exam – He never took a captain’s exam.” “He won the lottery twice and never bought a ticket”.

I also remember the manager after violating the statute saying he didn’t appoint Jacoppo because he was going to take the Chief’ exam. I remember the manager appointing Captain Deveau as acting Chief and then appointed him chief.

 

Thank you for your time,
Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney
Former Town Councilor
Very Concerned Citizen

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