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Union calls for Moniz to resign
Rank and file returns vote of 'no confidence'
By RAY HENRY, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- The city's police union made public yesterday a "no-confidence" vote against Police Chief Carl K. Moniz and demanded his resignation for what they call his lack of trust in the rank and file.
The three-page letter, written by union President Joseph A. Sylvia, accuses Chief Moniz of focusing on "petty internal matters" such as how officers wear their hats and trim their mustaches, even while a series of shootings killed four people last month.
Union officials complained that the chief's scrutiny is so extreme that he connected the live feed from Police Department security cameras to his Dartmouth home.

"People were very upset when he installed this system at his house," said Detective Robert Holmes, the union's vice president. "The guy wants to be micro-managing to that degree; that's out of control. It gives the message you don't trust your men."
Although the no-confidence vote was taken in June, Detective Holmes said the union decided to wait five months before releasing the result in the hope that the situation would improve. He said in an interview he did not know the exact vote count or how many union members participated.
Chief Moniz, who has held the top post for just over a year, claimed the union's complaints stemmed from their inability to accept change.
"I want ... to move this department forward. Everything I've tried to bring about has been met with resistance from the union," he said.
The union president claimed that Chief Moniz's alleged preoccupation with mundane details suggests he isn't adequately addressing larger issues. Under his watch, union leaders said, the staffing level of the narcotics unit has declined.
"You apparently do not understand that the real problem is that there is a direct correlation between drugs, guns and gang violence. The city of New Bedford is being virtually overrun by thugs and it is in the newspapers and electronic media every day. What have you done about it?" the letter said.
Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz Jr. dismissed the no-confidence vote as petty griping from a labor organization that has long had poor relations with city government.
"The union that has represented the Police Department has never been satisfied with the chief. Carl Moniz is hard-working," Mayor Kalisz said. "He is someone that I have put my trust into."
While the letter was addressed to Chief Moniz, Mayor Kalisz was clearly a target as well.
He has frequently plunged himself into law enforcement issues since forcing out Chief Moniz's predecessor during a record spate of slayings last year.
After gang-related gun battles broke out anew this spring, he invited the State Police Anti-Gang Unit into New Bedford. The mayor also has been a proponent of using federal law enforcement agencies to build cases against violent criminals.
But his efforts have sometimes drawn criticism. In the middle of this spring's drive-by shootings, the mayor said he wanted city police officers to randomly stop cars in high-crime areas, a proposal mocked as unconstitutional by his own officers and condemned by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"What law enforcement expertise does the mayor have that makes you take his word over that of your officers? This issue is by far the most damaging to the esprit de corps and morale within the department," wrote Sgt. Sylvia, the union president.
Just last week, Ward 4 City Councilor Joseph P. Fortes questioned whether the Police Department needed a change of leadership. Former Chief Arthur J. Kelly III was forced out after the ninth homicide of 2003. There have been seven killings this year.
"If you don't have a leader who can effectively run the department, it's time to go," City Councilor-at-large Brian K. Gomes said last night.
But Mr. Gomes' view wasn't shared unanimously. Council President John T. Saunders noted that Chief Moniz has been in his new position for only a year and may need more time. He also questioned whether the union has a problem with authority.
The New Bedford Police Union reached a no-confidence vote once before in 1996 under the same union president, except the target was the City Council and then-Mayor Rosemary Tierney.
At the time, Sgt. Sylvia wrote a letter complaining that the mayor was "micro-managing this department in every respect," among other concerns.
"The action of the union has never changed," Chief Moniz said yesterday. "They've never gotten along with the chief. There's never room for compromise."
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