Once again, ripped from the headlines, a story that hits home. Every now and then a story appears in a newspaper, online, or other media source, that resembles a set of circumstances that has occurred here in Westfield. Go to the following link to read story:
This year the Westfield Police Department promoted a sergeant to the next highest rank, lieutenant, AFTER the list of potential candidates had expired. From time to time, when there is an opening, the Westfield Police Department holds a promotional exam to allow officers of one rank to test for the next highest rank. In this case, a promotional exam for the rank of lieutenant was held, creating a list of candidates to choose from. The list has since expired.
Sergeants eligible to take the lieutenants exam, participated in a process that some members of the department believe was manipulated in the end. The candidates testing results for the position of lieutenant were ranked on a list from which the Chief of Police would promote. The Chief of Police has the right to promote an officer that ranks in the top three. Once an officer has been selected from that top three, the officer ranked fourth moves up to three and so on. It is not unusual for an officer to be ranked number one and not be promoted; it happened to Sergeant Todd Earl not once, but twice.
After other sergeants had been promoted to lieutenant off the promotional list, Sergeant Earl found himself sitting number one, only to be passed over in favor of Sergeant Matthew Cassidy. While Sgt. Earl continued sitting number one, the promotional list was allowed to expire while another open lieutenant's rank remained open.
There are several reasons why an officer is passed over for promotion. Although unable to prove, the reasons are speculative from within the rank and file. Only the Chief of Police and his closest confidants are privy to what motivates the decision to promote or not promote. Favoritism, unconditional allegiance to the Chief of Police, and other examples of cronyism have long been suspect as facilitators in a promotional process that is supposed to be fair, unbiased, and transparent. Just look into Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea's involvement in the promotional procedures surrounding the selection of Police Chief John Parizeau and his inability to control former Police Chief Barney Tracy and one can understand how politics has a tendency to taint the process. For one candidate, like Sgt. Earl, to be passed over once in favor of another candidate, is not uncommon. To be left "hanging" number one on the list with an opening available, is questionable.
While Sergeant Earl sat number one for a second time, with a lieutenants spot open, the list was allowed to expire. There was speculation that Chief John Parizeau and Captain David Wayman manipulated the process. These two ranking officers themselves, have been promoted under an alleged cloud of promotional impropriety Why wasn't a sergeant promoted to lieutenant from the active list with a spot available. Why was the list allowed to expire? Was Chief John Parizeau trying to manipulate the process to get to a sergeant on the list that was not in the top three?
In the Spring of this year, after the lieutenants promotional list had expired, the police department saw the promotion of Sergeant John Ricerca to the rank of Lieutenant. The events surrounding this promotion left many to question the validity of the promotional testing process within the police department. It had been discovered last year that Sgt. Ricerca had been receiving the pay of a lieutenant at a time when the police department's commanding officers had told others seeking promotion that "there was no money to promote." Some deemed that the pay raise, but not the rank of lieutenant, given to Sgt. Ricerca in 2009 was a "back room" deal done outside of the police officer's union contract. Ricerca sat number three on the expired lieutenant's list when he was ultimately promoted to lieutenant. Why wasn't he promoted while the list was still active? Would promoting Ricerca, thus skipping Sgt. Earl for the second time, validate other's claims that favoritism played a role in the selection process?
Politics are not just limited to the lower ranks within the department. Political wrangling can be found all the way up the chain of command to the office of the Chief of Police.
The last two selections for the office of Chief of Police saw Captain Clifford Auchter lose out each time to a candidate that for one reason or another may have been less desirable amongst some of the rank and file of the department. It has been alleged that during the selection process that resulted in the promotion of John Parizeau to Chief of Police, and David Wayman to Captain, the selection process was manipulated by Town Administrator Jim Gildea and some members of the Town Council. In the case of former Police Chief Bernard Tracy, how else could a police officer, with a history of assault, threats of violence, and accusations of harassment and retaliatory tactics, achieve such a rank within the department? Also, how could a police officer, initially not wanting to participate in the Chief of Police selection process (John Parizeau), ultimately be named to that office? Politics, perhaps?
It appears that the selection process to appoint the next person to take over the helm of the Westfield Police Department is just around the corner. Westfield Police Chief John M. Parizeau is linked to separate investigations surrounding his alleged misconduct and could soon be shown, or seek out, the back door.
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