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Police picket selectmen

Webster board told officer's safety risked Webster police protest action by board

Jean Laquidara Hill
T&G STAFF



WEBSTER- Nearly every full-time police officer as well as part-time and reserve officers picketed selectmen last night, asserting with signs and fliers that the board had interfered with police operations and had endangered the safety of an undercover officer.

The quiet protest by about 45 police officers and supporters took place outside Bartlett High School, where Robert J. Miller, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, was giving the town's first State of the Town address to an audience of about 55 people.

Of the town's 28 full-time officers, 24 picketed. Part-time and reserve officers and other supporters brought the number of pickets to about 45.

While the safety of the undercover officer was a driving concern for demonstrators, their signs and a flier also criticized selectmen for violating their own vote to follow the recommendations of retired Superior Court Judge Robert Barton.

In his December report on the Police Department, Judge Barton admonished selectmen for interfering with police operations and urged the board to stop. Selectmen voted to adopt the recommendations of the Barton report, which cost the town $25,000.

The Webster police union, Local 428 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, contends selectmen endangered an undercover police officer by saying, in an open meeting televised over a cable access channel Monday, that the officer had been hired recently and whisked away to an out-of-town federal drug assignment without being introduced to selectmen.

Mr. Miller was one of three selectmen who voted to bring the new undercover officer and another officer back to town by removing them from the federal drug operation. Selectmen Robert Stawiecki and Raymond M. Regis also voted to return the officers to regular duty. Selectmen Irene A. Martel and Mark G. Dowgiewicz voted against the motion.

One of the officers, Senior Sgt. Rodney Budrow, has been assigned to federal drug investigations for several years, helping in arrests in town and in other Worcester County communities. His assignment was known in town.

The other officer was hired within the past couple of months, but the Police Department has been quiet about having hired a new officer, keeping the officer's identity and role confidential to protect the officer and investigations.

Since the disclosure Monday night, the police union has been concerned that drug dealers would be suspicious of new faces, endangering the undercover officer or someone mistaken for the officer.

Mr. Miller said last night, before his speech, that he wanted the officers returned to regular duty because of residents' complaints about not having enough officers on the streets, and about paying for officers to work out of town. Asked if he believed he endangered anyone, he said, "Not for a second."

Mr. Stawiecki also asserted that selectmen endangered no one, describing the new officer's role in drug investigations as "the worst-kept secret in town."

Mr. Miller and Mr. Stawiecki both said they respected the police officers' right to protest.

Using an unknown, newly hired officer for drug investigations is not a new idea in town. A new hire whose identity was confidential at the time was key in making buys for a major federal drug bust in Webster several years ago. Three bars were closed, and several drug dealers were convicted and incarcerated in federal prison. That officer has since left the force.

Another federal drug bust a few years ago involved a local man who had held a gun to an informant's head. He was convicted in federal court for distributing cocaine.

Officer John S. Nedoroscik, president of the local International Brotherhood of Police Officers union, said police officers are very concerned that some selectmen are trying to interfere with Town Administrator Robin J. Leal's discipline of police officers by urging her to fire Officer Brian J. Barnes. The Barton report had recommended a reprimand for Officer Barnes, which she issued.

Officer Nedoroscik said police will support Ms. Leal if there are repercussions from selectmen for her supporting police.

State law and the town charter place the police chief in charge of daily operations and police assignments. By town charter, the town administrator hires and promotes police officers within Civil Service rules. Selectmen hire the town administrator.

Ms. Leal said yesterday morning she shares the police officers' concerns about the undercover officer and operations, and she also supports selectmen's role in making policy for the Police Department.

As for selectmen's vote to return officers to regular duty, she said she does not have the authority as a town administrator to carry out that vote.

Only the police chief has authority over deployment of personnel, she said. Sgt. William J. Keefe is the acting police chief, after Richard E. Berthiaume retired last month in keeping with his plans and the judge's recommendation.

Mr. Miller, in his 35-minute address to the town last night, asserted the success of Ms. Leal as the town's new administrator depends on her ability to carry out her responsibilities and not be manipulated by a board or individuals.

He also noted Judge Barton's admonition of selectmen for interfering with police operations, as well as past management problems in the department.

He praised town employees, noting many by name, and recognized the Police Department for its hard work, and he looked ahead to a new middle school.

"In order to help move Webster forward," he said, "it is essential that the Board of Selectmen put aside our differences and work together once again, as we have in the past, to provide a positive leadership role which is critical for the success of any town government."

Mr. Miller has said he will run for re-election in the spring. Talking earlier this week about his State of the Town address, he said the idea was not politically motivated.
 

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Brian823 said:
Police picket selectmen

Webster board told officer's safety risked Webster police protest action by board

Jean Laquidara Hill
T&G STAFF

WEBSTER- Nearly every full-time police officer as well as part-time and reserve officers picketed selectmen last night, asserting with signs and fliers that the board had interfered with police operations and had endangered the safety of an undercover officer.
Of the town's 28 full-time officers, 24 picketed. Part-time and reserve officers and other supporters brought the number of pickets to about 45.

Can you say "Solidarity"

In his December report on the Police Department, Judge Barton admonished selectmen for interfering with police operations and urged the board to stop. Selectmen voted to adopt the recommendations of the Barton report, which cost the town $25,000.

Sounds logical, commission a study, pay for it, adopt the recommendations, IGNORE them. Very cost effective!

:shock:

Using an unknown, newly hired officer for drug investigations is not a new idea in town. A new hire whose identity was confidential at the time was key in making buys for a major federal drug bust in Webster several years ago. Three bars were closed, and several drug dealers were convicted and incarcerated in federal prison. That officer has since left the force.

So if it worked before, what's the beef?
:?

.
 

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So this guy is going to stand for re-election this spring? Good time for the citizens of Webster to do their "spring cleaning" and put this guy out to the curb. :x
 
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