Subscribe to the Duxbury Clipper and stay informed where news matters most –– your hometown!
|Supporters out in force for police chief|
|Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:44|
Supporters of Police Chief Mark DeLuca packed the Mural Room at Town Hall Monday night to urge the Board of Selectmen to reverse Town Manager Richard MacDonaldâ€™s decision not to renew his contract.
Other residents, however, voiced support for MacDonald and said overturning the move could undermine the authority of the Town Manager Act.
Before the selectmen began to debate the fate of their police chief, dozens of members of the Duxbury Police Department gathered outside town hall in a show of support.
Uniformed officers mingled with police officers in plainclothes in the hour before the Board of Selectmen meeting started Monday night.
Lt. Susan James said those at the meeting to show support for the chief included Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph MacDonald, and members of the Marshfield, Whitman and Cohasset police departments.
â€œWeâ€™re here to support the police chief,â€ James said. â€œThey came on their own, on their own time.â€
She said she was â€œdevastatedâ€ when she first heard of the town managerâ€™s decision not to renew the contract.
Lt. Roger Banfill, who along with James and Lt. Lewis Chubb recently signed a letter of support for DeLuca, said the officers in attendance were behind DeLuca â€œ100 percent.â€
â€œHeâ€™s pushed this department forward ... he gives it his all,â€ Banfill said. â€œHopefully this will convince the selectmen and the town manager to sign a new contract.â€
Inside the meeting, James repeated her support for the chief, and sharply criticized MacDonaldâ€™s decision.
â€œI feel the decision ... is a travesty and an embarrassment,â€ she said, calling the decision a â€œpersonal attackâ€ on the chief.
â€œChief DeLuca is an honorable and compassionate leader of our department,â€ she added.
Other members of the Duxbury Police Department echoed the support.
â€œI feel a mistake is being made,â€ said Fran McTernan, who said he has worked for DeLuca for 10 years.
â€œThe task of running a department is not an easy one.â€ he said. â€œI believe Chief DeLuca has done an admirable job.â€
Sgt. Dennis Symmonds told the board: â€œYou couldnâ€™t ask for a better man.â€
Perhaps the strongest words of support came from Bob Hayden, a former police chief in Lawrence who worked with DeLuca in Boston and was on the search committee that brought DeLuca to Duxbury.
â€œI was looking for honesty, integrity, courage ... those are things you look for in a police chief,â€ he said. â€œI strongly urge Duxbury to keep Mark DeLuca as your police chief.â€
Bonnie Dyer, widow of Duxbury Special Police Officer Melvin Dyer, who was killed last summer while working a detail at the Marshfield Fair, said DeLuca was there for her and her family in a dark time.
â€œEven though there was little hope he would survive ... Chief DeLuca came to Brigham & Womenâ€™s every single day to support me and my kids,â€ she said. â€œThe chief gave Mel the best any fallen officer could deserve. He truly cares about all his officers.â€
Ed Perry, a Duxbury resident who owns the radio station WATD, also voiced support for DeLuca.
â€œI think the town of Duxbury has a pretty good deal with Mark DeLuca,â€ he said.
He said as a reporter, itâ€™s his job to dig up bad things, and in Duxbury he hasnâ€™t found much to complain about.
â€œThis issue has the ability to completely polarize this town,â€ he said. â€œWhatever you do here, please keep the door open for negotiation.â€
Others asked for the reason DeLucaâ€™s contract wasnâ€™t renewed.
â€œWhat is the cause? Whatâ€™s the reason why?â€ asked Cohasset Police Chief James Hussey.
â€œWe are asking you, as your constituents to change this,â€ said resident Deb Jewell. â€œThis is wrong.â€
Other residents at the meeting, however, said they supported the town managerâ€™s right to make a decision on the chiefâ€™s contract.
Former selectman Jim Murphy said that in the business world, a non-renewal wouldnâ€™t be considered a termination, a sentiment echoed by others at the meeting.
â€œIn the 27 years Iâ€™ve been in this community, Iâ€™m not sure thereâ€™s been a more important decision,â€ he said, saying reversing MacDonaldâ€™s decision could undercut the authority of future town managers.
â€œItâ€™s going to impact the ability of the town to hire a town manager,â€ he said.
Steve Antonellis said that if the non-renewal of a contract is to be considered a dismissal, it would basically create open-ended contracts.
â€œI donâ€™t think that was the intent of the police chief and fire chief having contracts,â€ he said. â€œWe need to allow him [MacDonald] to do his job.â€
Bob Doyle said that the selectmen needed to respect the authority of the town manager.
â€œI respect Chief DeLuca, but at the same time I respect the town manager and I respect this government,â€ Doyle said. â€œHe has not been fired.â€
Maggie Kearney read a letter, supporting the town managerâ€™s right to make the decision. Former selectmen Pat Dowd, John Leonard, Margaret Kearney, Andre Martecchini, James Murphy and John Tuffy signed the letter.
For his part, DeLuca had little to say after the meeting, saying heâ€™d prefer to refrain from commenting and would let the matter play out with the selectmen.