Former Revere police chief, Joseph Cafarelli. (File Photo)
News, Police/Fire

Revere police chief dismissal issue still brewing

REVERE -- Mayor Brian Arrigo opted against renewing the former police chief Joseph Cafarelli’s contract earlier this year and it’s clear tension remains on both sides.

Cafarelli’s contract expired June 30 -- the mayor cited a difference of philosophy as the reason for not renewing it. In June, Arrigo said it was clear that his philosophy -- to make sure leadership in the department was building trust in the community, and was focused on creating a culture of accountability and community policing -- was a little bit different from the former chief.

Arrigo appointed James Guido, a former captain and executive officer of the department, as the interim police chief, which was effective on July 1. The mayor is pushing to amend a city ordinance, which restricts the candidate pool for police chief to internal candidates with at least five years as a lieutenant or captain, to allow the city to hire from outside the department.

Arrigo said in a recent statement that as mayor, he pledges to always address issues in an honest and transparent manner, and promises to always deal in facts.

“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of conversation around the status of former Police Chief Joe Cafarelli that is not grounded in facts or reality,” Arrigo said. “Out of respect for him, his service, and the Revere Police Department, I have gone out of my way not to disparage former Chief Cafarelli over the last number of months, or air out any issues publicly. Despite this, my administration has been the target of false and misleading statements.

“On social media, and during (last) Monday’s City Council meeting, I was accused of somehow disparaging the former chief’s family, and denying them access to health insurance coverage,” Arrigo said. “These statements are false. As a husband and as a father of two small children, I take deep offense to these false statements.”

Arrigo said Cafarelli served as chief for five years, and as an officer in the department for 26 years -- it was his decision and prerogative as mayor to not extend his contract as chief and go in a different direction. On July 1, Arrigo said Cafarelli’s employment with the city ended, and per city policy, his family’s health insurance continued through the end of that month, July 31.

“As with any employee whose term has ended with the city, Chief Cafarelli was offered the option to purchase health insurance for the month of August,” Arrigo said in a statement. “The Human Resources department actively reached out to explain his coverage options, which actually turned out to be ‘deferred retirement’ coverage -- a less expensive option than COBRA.

“He was treated exactly as we would any other employee. He turned down health insurance coverage for August. He actually did choose to purchase dental insurance through the city for the month of August, but declined health insurance.”

City Councilor-at-Large George Rotondo said at the City Council meeting last week that “my problem is that you’re besmirching a former chief’s name in public and in private and more importantly, you’re doing the same with the police department,” referring to the mayor.

Rotondo asked the mayor why Cafarelli’s contract wasn’t honored and why COBRA wasn’t provided under the law. Arrigo replied that as he believes Rotondo knows, the city is under the threat of litigation and that litigation strategy would have to be discussed in executive session, which is closed to the public.

Rotondo, addressing Cafarelli, who was at the City Council meeting, said, “It’s my understanding that in 2016, the mayor sent you a letter basically saying that you could return to work, and then after that in 2017, stating that you would not be able to return back to work.” Rotondo said that after June, Cafarelli and his family were basically left with no insurance. Is that correct, Rotondo asked Cafarelli.

“I’d say that’s an accurate assessment and that’s about as much as I can get into,” Cafarelli said.

Cafarelli said that he wasn’t inclined to speak at the meeting, as he wasn’t an employee of the city anymore, but added that he appreciated the councilor’s support.

“All I’m here to do is protect my reputation and my good name,” Cafarelli said. "If somebody has a problem with me, I would much more appreciate that they be professional, but to target my family is reprehensible. I bend my knee for no one. I’m too old. My arthritis won’t let me, so I’ll stand to fight anyone. But don’t attack my family and that’s really all I have to say.”

Arrigo said that Cafarelli formally retired on Aug. 20 and receives an annual pension of $134,368, and is eligible to be covered by retiree health insurance moving forward.

The mayor said that on two separate occasions, the city negotiated to conclusion very generous separation agreements with Cafarelli’s attorneys, only for them to refuse to sign -- the city remains interested in reaching an amicable resolution.

“I urge the public to take a moment and think skeptically about the bizarre, insulting and blatantly false messages that come from those who have attempted to make the former chief’s status a political issue,” Arrigo said. “I’m going to continue to respect the residents, the police department, and the former chief himself by keeping the remainder of our issues private.”

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