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Wayland's Irving: State police attacks are just 'self-serving'

By John Hilliard/ Staff Writer
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wayland's top cop blasted the state police union for "self-serving" attacks on police departments that share their resources in law enforcement councils.

Wayland Police Chief Robert Irving defended his department's decision to join the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (LEC), allowing the town to tap the resources of more than 40 police departments.

"In my opinion, the union for the Massachusetts State Police wrote a letter that was self-serving and did not accurately depict the mission of the LECs," Irving wrote in a letter sent last week to selectmen.

The Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council has 40 member departments, along with the Plymouth County and Norfolk County sheriff departments. Local departments include Weston, Sudbury and Natick.

But LECs duplicate the services of state police, say union leadership.

In a letter sent to community leaders across the state, State Police Association of Massachusetts President John Coflesky wrote the need for regional police forces are "built on exaggeration and falsehoods" that do the same job as state police. The union represents over 2,000 state troopers and sergeants.

"When towns subscribe to the LECs, they are duplicating services that are already paid for by your local taxpayers," wrote Coflesky and union secretary David Cortese.

A law enforcement council allows police departments to share their resources and deploy services most small towns cannot afford, such as computer crime investigation and special tactics and response teams.

It goes further than the mutual aid agreements all police departments share because a law enforcement council draws officers from member departments and trains them for joint investigations or deployments.

Irving said the town's involvement with the MetroLEC grants quick access to as many as 100 local police officers to respond to local emergencies such as a missing child, crime or large-scale disaster.

'I think it's a situation where local departments working together can provide a quicker response than state police," he said. "We need to do what's necessary to ensure a quick and rapid response in our town."

Wayland police pay about $1,500 annually in council membership dues, a sum Irving says is "well worth" the specialized training two Wayland officers receive. One officer is a member of MetroLEC's rapid response team and another is trained as a cyber-crime investigator.

Their specialized training "is something they bring back to Wayland," said Irving.

In exchange, the two officers can be used by other member departments if needed. The department's response team officer has already seen duty in the council, and served at both the Democratic National Convention and the Red Sox victory parade, both in Boston.

Irving said the state police union's criticism stems from its own self-interest.

"It's an effort to maintain overtime opportunities for the state police," he said.

In an interview, union secretary Cortese said the union's concern is not with local police officers but with duplicating services offered by the state police. When state police respond to a scene, often local police will call the shots.

"Nobody pushes the local police out of the way," he said.

However, he disagreed that state police cannot respond as quickly as local police. The state police have response teams ready to roll if an emergency develops, unlike an LEC, which has to call police from separate departments, he said.

"(LECs) will certainly interfere with our work," he said.

State police special services are better trained, said Cortese, and have greater experience.

Cortese said state police can cross borders without costing communities the membership dues of a law enforcement council, and frees them from liability if police officers become involved in litigation while serving outside their community. He said if a small police force sends officers to another community, the department will be shorthanded or call in additional officers.

"I don't think it's any more a benefit than calling us," he said. "We can respond as quick or quicker."

State Police Lt. Sharon Costine would not comment on the union's positions, saying the state police will work with any police agency.

"The more police, the better," she said. "We are here to work with local departments."

She would not speculate on whether money spent for membership in an LEC is worthwhile.

"You'd have to check with each individual community," she said.

Weston Chief Steve Shaw said his town is not trying to replace the State Police, but widen his department's resources.

"I have the ability to get resources from next door" as an LEC member, he said. "The more people, the quicker, the better."

Weston pays $2,000 in dues for membership in MetroLEC, where three of its officers are given specialized training in areas such as search and rescue and computer crime.

Shaw said he has the "highest respect" for the state police.
"If I ever felt I needed the assistance of the state police, I wouldn't hesitate to call," he said.

He believes the state police union is concerned that law enforcement councils could impact their job.

"I think they're concerned with the proliferation of law enforcement councils" and the role of the councils in emergency response, said Shaw. "I think they're concerned they're losing those job positions."

Shaw is not worried that insurance issues will pose a problem for a law enforcement council. All communities have mutual aid agreements, plus police departments carry liability insurance for their officers.

"I'm willing to trust my officers enough to work by the rules," said Shaw.

Walpole Police Chief Richard Stillman, who serves as president for the MetroLEC, said he was "disappointed" in the union's letter. He said he believes the letter does not speak for all state police officers.

"We've had relationships with the state police that have gone on for decades and those relationships are very good," he said.

Stillman said regional councils are meant to give local police an edge in law enforcement to complement the state police.

"We're certainly not competing with them," he said. "It just makes it more efficient if different regions have their own resources."

Re: Wayland's Irving: State police attacks are just 'self-se

Maybe there should be a subfolder just for LEC and MSP bashing.

Subscribing Member
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Re: Wayland's Irving: State police attacks are just 'self-se

I stopped reading this article when I read this.
Irving said the state police union's criticism stems from its own self-interest.
No scat.......a union representing and protecting its members interests.....who woulda thunk. :!: :roll:
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