Chief hopes to give retirees police powers

KEN YUSZKUS/Staff file photo. Gloucester police Chief Ed Conley.

Gloucester police Chief Ed Conley is requesting approval from the City Council to submit a home rule petition to the state Legislature for consideration which would allow Gloucester to convey special police authority to qualified retired Gloucester Police officers, making them known as "special police officers."

The need, Conley explained on Wednesday, comes as the Gloucester Police Department relies on the support of retired officers to increase paid detail and summer beach staffing. 

As of right now, the force's retired officers do not possess police authority which means that they are unable to stop vehicles, enforce laws, or issue traffic citations. 

"The consequence of this lack of authority is that it significantly limits the scope of their duties, diminishes the return on the training investment made by the city, and does not maximize the efficient delivery of public safety services," Conley wrote to Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken last month.

If given this new authority, retired officers would provide a pool of qualified staff should the department should need the assistance of more officers for an incident such as a pandemic, natural disaster, or mass casualty, he said.

Conley noted that police departments in Boston, Taunton, and Somerville have similar home rule petitions that give the cities authority to swear in retirees as special police officers.  

"It is my recommendation that we leverage the training and experience of our retiring officers," Conley wrote in the letter.

According to the petition, retired officers would be able to perform police details or any duties arising from or during the course of police detail work even if it does not relate to detail work.  

This includes arrests and other police functions of regular officers of the city. 

Five retired officers who are currently  eligible to work details will not be affected by this new petition.  

“Only new retirees will fall under it,” Conley explained.  

No retired police officer will be appointed under this act as a special police officer if that officer has been retired for more than 4 1/2 years. At the age of 70, all retired officers are no longer eligible to work details.  

Those younger than 70 who have a desire to work details would be required to meet the minimal standards for continuing education, service training, CPR and first aid, and firearms certification. Also, they would need to pass an annual physical. This, Conley explained, would be at the officers' own expense.

Staff Writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

 

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