Flawed process

10

Former Police Chief David Rossi made an excellent decision when he withdrew as a participant on the screening committee that will help pick his replacement.

Clearly, the decision to add Rossi to that committee was not met well by some members of the patrolmen’s union, and Rossi’s continued presence on the committee would do little to help the perception that selectmen already have a candidate in mind and are manipulating the process to get that person into the job.

In the interest of a “fair and equitable” process, Rossi withdrew, and the board of selectmen accepted.

Selectman Margaret Serpa voted, along with chairman Arthur Smadbeck, to accept Rossi’s resignation from the committee, but failed to disclose her personal relationship with the former chief. She is his mother-in-law.

Such conflicts are difficult to avoid on the Island, but there’s no reason why Serpa shouldn’t have mentioned it again on Tuesday. She shouldn’t assume everyone already knows, especially given that their last names are not the same.

It’s a level of transparency that’s needed when the public perception is that the process is shrouded in secrecy.

But even with Rossi out of the picture, the process of picking a new chief is flawed. The selection of Integrity Testing LLC to conduct the search has also been called into question.

Records show Integrity Testing was the low bidder of three companies that applied to do the search. Integrity Testing includes three former police chiefs, but the principal is Alfred Donovan, the former Tewksbury police chief, whose department made headlines in 2007 when it was sued. According to a Boston Globe story, the former chief, who was named in the suit, attempted to dissuade a woman from making a criminal complaint against a police dispatcher in an alleged sexual assault.

A Google search also produces a story in the Eagle Tribune that should have at least raised questions for the Edgartown board of selectmen. The Tewksbury dispatcher, who was convicted of assault to rape and indecent assault and battery, was Donovan’s brother-in-law, according to the newspaper, and Donovan is the one who signed off on the internal investigation that found insufficient evidence to discipline the dispatcher.

The two other companies are also operated by former police chiefs. A bid by Public Safety Consultants LLC, just $500 more than Integrity Testing’s lowest bid, was marked “received late.” The principal of that company is A. Wayne Sampson, the retired Shrewsbury police chief.

The final bidder was BadgeQuest, a company operated by retired Plymouth Police Chief Robert Pomeroy. That bid was nearly double what Integrity Testing offered to do the job for, according to records.

In both cases, Google searches of those chiefs also bring up stories that should at least raise questions to be addressed before making a decision to hire them or not.

The public is right to wonder why no questions were asked, particularly of the company awarded the contract.

It’s also unclear why selectmen set a limit of $10,000 to do this review of candidates. BadgeQuest, for example, suggested an optional $3,000 background investigation of the final candidate, which would appear to be a good idea, but that’s not included in Integrity Testing’s scope of services, and seems to be an oversight by the board of selectmen in its request for proposals.

Selectmen need to follow the lead of their former chief and reflect. The town has a solid acting chief in place, so there’s no reason to rush the process to find Rossi’s replacement. It would seem prudent to hit the pause button, reset the game clock, and work out a process that restores the public’s trust, even if it costs a few more bucks to do it right.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t forget that the current acting chief is the son of the Town Administrator. And was lieutenant during Rossi’s time as chief, when the department fell into disarray. The patrolmen and seargeants votedto request an outside evaluation be done because the department was such a mess but Rossi’s heart attack and retirement delayed it.

    • Nevertheless and notwithstanding the path to where we are now, Lt. Dolby has a rare opportunity to exercise leadership and show us what he’s got.

  2. In the interest of a ‘fair and balanced reporting’, the MV Times conveniently omitted that their town columnist was not appointed to the search committee as she requested. Using her column and this ‘piece’ to promote her ‘narrative’ dilutes any credibility about your opinion on the process. It appears the selectman are doing the right thing with the search committee in order to get the best candidate whether from within or from outside the department. You didn’t like the process the last time and you don’t like it this time. What’s your point? I’m sure your next ‘op-ed’ will be to ‘endorse’ a candidate based on ‘years here on the job’. As she pointed out in her town column, perhaps the search committee should make public why any candidate was ‘passed over’ for the job. Employee personnel files should remain private but heck lets get it out in the open as she requests. Lets see if the applicants agree to that. (I doubt it)

    • What a tangled web you weave.
      Try as we may, try as we might, the Edgartown machine won’t do what’s right.
      We live in a world where so few have the power, we live in a town where only family climbs the ladder
      and the trust has most certainly been shattered.
      Yell and scream the people will cry, but really its no matter.
      You will get your way, the people have no say. The numbers are left in the fray.
      Continue you will down the road of despair, we’ve gone to far! There is no repair.
      Fair for all, is not something you dare, how about you reveal your motives if you care.

    • While I’m quite flattered that you think that this opinion piece has anything to do with me, I’d be insulted if I was the author. I would think they’d have more scruples than writing such a piece because of me. I assure I don’t know who wrote it, when, why, etc. Nor have I met anyone on that “side” of the newspaper. I write for the community portion of the paper, as a subcontractor, and have not met others at the newspaper, save a few other columnists and my editor, Geoff.
      As for my position, you appear to be off a bit in your judgement. First off – I knew darn right well they’d never put me on that committee when I volunteered for it. I have too much inside information for them to consider me for it and they know that because they have it in all the emails I sent them. I have sought answers to questions about the process, the outside company with owners with questionable backgrounds, and the “preferred” requirements in the job posting that are impossible for the local officers to have. There are no captains or deputy chiefs on the Edgartown force and no one here has ICS400 training. For that matter, no one in a leadership position at the department or the selectmen’s office even knew what ICS400 was. And it isn’t in the emergency management guide anywhere. Personally, I think if our officers are applying for the job, they wouldn’t object to a hiring committee seeing their personnel files. Some of our officers don’t have anything to hide. Others would fully welcome the opportunity to share their stories if they could. There is absolutely no reason that the Edgartown Chief of Police can’t be hired by a community committee instead of a company with no investment in the town, in my opinion. A committee that is more than 3 or 4 people and from diverse sections of the community. As this editorial points out, they currently have an interim chief. If the selectmen have that much faith in him, what is the rush to get this done without discussion with the community members and officers themselves? Art Smadbeck noted the other day that I have an issue with the process. He was correct. But I assure you, I am not alone. If you think I am, you may want to do a check in with the town administrator regarding how many emails she’s received on the topic.

  3. And fair and balanced would also include that the current acting chief is the son of the town administrator, I went to school with several members of the department so have known them forever, and I have an EX husband on the department. Ex. Not related to anymore. For 10 years.

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