War of words continues in East Providence Police saga
EAST PROVIDENCE — Writing on behalf of the city, East Providence City Manager Peter Graczykowski submitted a lengthy retort Tuesday, July 16, to a recent letter delivered to The Post and eastbayri.com by Attorney Thomas McAndrew, who chastised elected and appointed officials for their actions during an investigation by Rhode Island State Police into alleged misconducted in the case of Police Chief Joseph Tavares.
In a report issued July 11, the State Police concluded there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges of misconduct against City Councilors Thomas Rose Jr. and Chrissy Rossi, who were accused of breaking City Charter by attempting to pressure Mr. Graczykowski into terminating the chief.
Though their inquiry failed to find evidence reaching probable cause standards, the State Police, however, still singled out Mr. Rose and Mrs. Rossi for being uncooperative in the matter.
In a previous statement to The Post, Mr. Graczykowski claimed the report cleared the city, its politicians and members of the EPPD rank and file of any wrong doing. Mr. McAndrew took umbrage with that assertion, writing on July 12 it did not nothing of the sort and left many unanswered questions surrounding the activities of Mr. Rose, Mrs. Rossi and Mr. Graczykowski.
Tuesday, the City Manager penned his reply to Mr. McAndrew's letter in the form of an email, the text of which follows below...
"It is easy to understand why the attorney hired by the East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares is frustrated. The Rhode Island State Police investigation did not prove any wrongdoing alleged by his client; and not one of his employees who voted has confidence in the Chief's leadership. It is also unfortunate that, rather than working within the boundaries of the resolution passed by the state-appointed members of the East Providence Budget Commission, the Chief's counsel is attempting to manufacture a case publicly to the detriment of the Police Department and the City.
"Chief Tavares was placed on administrative leave effective April 15, 2013, as the City Manager lost confidence in the Chief's ability to continue to lead the East Providence Police Department. The two primary reasons that made that action necessary were administrative deficiencies and multiple personnel complaints alleging hostile work environment, some caused by the alleged claims of corruption within the Department. These reasons were communicated to the Police Chief verbally at the time of his suspension. A proposed release of claims and settlement agreement was presented to the Chief at the outset of the administrative leave, as a courtesy for a high-level government official, who serves at will and at the pleasure of City Manager and who may be removed for cause.
"The administrative leave allowed the City to investigate formally the personnel complaints without interference. While the City conducted the investigation, on April 17, 2013, the Council's President James Briden requested that the East Providence Budget Commission return for oversight of personnel matters. On April 18, 2013, the Director of Revenue rescinded the personnel oversight authority of the City Council, School Committee, City Manager and School Superintendent.
"The City reviewed the matter involving the Police Chief with the State on April 25, 2013. On May 2, 2013, the City handed over to the East Providence Budget Commission the results of the internal investigation that involved interviews with the complainants, as well as the list of administrative and performance issues. At the May 23, 2013 meeting of the Budget Commission, the state-appointed members adopted a resolution to reinstate the Chief, appoint a State Police assistant and develop a plan of goals and objectives to resolve any outstanding issues.
"In the meantime, the State Police conducted an investigation into alleged improprieties and irregularities within the City and the Police Department. This investigation concluded on July 11, 2013. The State Police concluded that there were not sufficient facts to meet the probable cause standard. It is the City's position that since no wrongdoing could be proven, both the East Providence Police officers and City officials have been cleared of any alleged improprieties and irregularities.
"The resolution reinstating the Police Chief mandated the development of written goals and objectives related to the Chief's responsibilities and a method for evaluating his performance to be submitted to the Budget Commission within 3 weeks of May 24, 2013. The City Manager submitted the goals and action items as well as performance review form to the Commission on June 5, 2013. The Commission discussed the submissions on June 13, 2013 and provided comments. The revised action items, list of issues related to job responsibilities and performance review form were submitted by the City Manager to the Budget Commission on June 17, 2013. As of July 16, 2013, these items were still not officially approved. As soon as these documents are approved for use, the City can provide all supporting documentation to the Chief during anticipated meetings to discuss the goals and objectives, activity list and performance.
"In addition, the resolution mandated that the Chief provide bi-weekly updates to the City Manager and Human Resources Director as to the status of any outstanding disciplinary actions or internal complaints so that Human Resources can assist the Chief in addressing and resolving those issues. In non-conformance with the resolution, such updates to the City Manager have yet to occur.
"In a letter to the City Manager dated June 12, 2013, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 569 informed that its membership held a vote of no confidence in the job performance of Chief Tavares. The vote consisted of a ballot style vote and over 80% of the East Providence Police Department membership participated. Of the ballots cast, there was not a single vote of confidence for Chief Tavares. On July 11, 2013, the IBPO Local 569 released the statement that it no longer had confidence in the Chief's leadership of the Police Department. This position is aligned with the City's previous actions questioning the Chief's leadership abilities. How the Chief could allow his legal counsel to conduct an all-out public smear campaign because he disagrees with his superior and an overwhelming majority of sworn officers he is supposed to lead, is simply beyond comprehension.
"Finally, with all due respect to Attorney McAndrew, the investigation of alleged improprieties and irregularities of the professionals is best left to professionals. The Rhode Island State Police conducted exactly such professional investigations twice in East Providence with respect to Police Department matters, one before and another during this Administration's tenure. Both yielded no credence to recklessly spoken, and never substantiated allegations of corruption. This is a testament to the integrity of the City of East Providence Police Department officers and City officials."
City of East Providence
145 Taunton Avenue
East Providence, RI 02914