Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 28, 2013

Letter: Leave police in Civil Service

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

The town of Andover Board of Selectmen’s legal maneuver to remove the Andover Police Department from the Massachusetts Civil Service system is outrageous, illogical and self-serving. The selectmen desire unwarranted, subjective and complete control over what the police officers do while performing their many and difficult duties and total silence from the Police Department members.

The citizens of Andover deserve an exceptionally professional Police Department that is under the restraint of Civil Service. Civil Service administers to the members of the police department promotional examinations. Civil Service administers entrance examinations to citizens and other important services to the town. The Civil Service examinations are designed by professionals especially for the police service. Civil Service professionalized the police services in this Commonwealth, and the police service in the town of Andover.

The selectmen in their effort to remove the Police Department from Civil Service is against the board’s ubiquitous management policy to reduce the town’s operating budget. i.e.,

The selectmen voted to reduce the budget by turning off street lights. If the decision to withdraw from Civil Service is favorable to the selectmen’s wishes, the town will have to employ a firm to design and administer examinations, another needless expense. The Feb. 28 Townsman newspaper, in its editorial on consultant fees printed, “Officials might consider whether they should spend taxpayers’ money on them [consultants] less frequently.”

The Civil Service system removed politics from the police service in Andover. In the event the selectmen has their way, they could subjectively select who was going to be a policeman or the police officers who would be promoted in town. If some citizens had a son or daughter who wanted to be a police officer in Andover, they would have to befriend some selectmen, the town manager or the chief of police; campaign contributions inter alia are always helpful.

The Board of Selectmen’s desire to remove the Police Department from the Civil Service is similar to hiring an outside contractor to perform certain duties at Spring Grove Cemetery.

In the Spring Grove Cemetery case, the selectmen placed citizens in danger of being a victim of certain crimes and civil actions in torts. The Board of Selectmen by taking the Police Department out of Civil Service would place the citizens at risk of civil actions in torts. The outsourcing of the employment positions did not improve the cemetery and removing the police department from Civil Service does not improve the police service to Andover.

If the citizens of Andover want a Police Department that is subjectively and baselessly controlled by the Board of Selectmen and the town manager, they should contact the selectmen and tell them to secede from the Civil Service system. If the citizens of Andover want a Police Department that is professional and executes and enforces the Massachusetts General Laws fairly, evenly and in accordance with the equal protection clause of the fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution they should contact the selectmen and tell them to that the police department needs to be under the restraint of Civil Service.

Fred W. Sunderland Jr., Esq.

78 Casablanca Court