HomeNewsPolice Union to Select Board: “That was disgraceful”

Police Union to Select Board: “That was disgraceful”

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Today, HopNews received a copy of a signed letter to the Hopkinton Select Board on behalf of the Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association; MassCOP Local 254. The Association represents police officers in the Town of Hopkinton from the rank of Patrol Officer to the rank of Sergeant.

>> RELATED: Kramer halts Police Promotions

The letter reads:


Members of the Select Board:

The treatment of our members in a public forum during the September 5, 2023, Select Board Meeting was nothing short of disgraceful. We are appalled at the humiliation our members were forced to endure in front of their closest loved ones on an evening that they expected to be celebrating a long-awaited, and well-deserved, promotion. This insult is not only damaging to the already struggling morale of our police officers, but it will be damaging to recruitment and retention efforts going forward.

The Select Board made several statements that we feel require further clarification so that we can understand why the Board felt it necessary to humiliate and insult our members in such a manner.

First and foremost: In regard to the decision to delay promotions being made last minute and in front of family members, Select Board Chair Muriel Kramer stated she “Tried to get ahead of this [the delay in promotions], so that we wouldn’t have this hard situation, but I was not successful”.

We vehemently disagree with this notion. Any Member of the Select Board could have notified our membership at any time before this meeting. Certainly, the Board did not come to this decision as they were in the meeting. So, when did they come to this decision? A day prior? A week? A month? Regardless, the courteous and respectful thing to do would be to notify the involved officers before they brought their loved ones to this meeting. Therefore, we ask, specifically, what steps did Chair Muriel Kramer take to avoid the humiliation of our members?

The demoralizing effect of this blunder cannot be understated, both on the individual level and on the departmental level. Detective Gregg DeBoer and Officer Matthew Santoro have a combined 31 years of dedicated service to the Town of Hopkinton. They have advanced in their careers and received numerous awards and commendations for their service. They have acted as supervisors on numerous occasions as an “Officer in Charge” when no paid supervisor is working. They took part in a long and strenuous promotional process and were chosen by Chief Bennett to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Leading up to the night of the meeting, they excitedly prepared. They shined their boots. They pressed their uniforms. They proudly sewed the emblematic Sergeant’s Stripes onto their shirts. They invited their families and loved ones to attend the promotion. What did they get in return? Disappointment. Embarrassment. Confusion. And above all else, not a single valid or clear explanation as to why.

On a larger scale, our members of the Hopkinton Police Department have not been immune to the challenges that have plagued policing nationwide over the past decade. Recruitment and retention has been a major issue for our department, yet our membership continues tomaintain a high level of service to the Town. The Town of Hopkinton has always been highly selective in choosing what candidates to hire and promote- rightfully so. The demands of this job require no less. Yet, in recent years, recruitment and retention crises have resulted in officers gaining the ability to be highly selective in where they choose to serve.

The Town, therefore, should be striving to be an attractive and supportive environment for officers to work in. By publicly showing their disrespect for our members, the Select Board has chosen to do the exact opposite. In light of this treatment we ask the Select Board, why should officers come to work for the Town of Hopkinton? Do you truly value us? If you were in our members’ shoes at that meeting, would you continue ot work for this Town?

Second: The Select Board made several concerning statements about the Promotional Process of the Hopkinton Police Department. This Process is detailed and agreed upon in the signed Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association MassCOP Local 254, and the Town of Hopkinton. The Promotional Process is further described and standardized through the written “Promotional Process Policy”, that all of our members have read and signed.

Chair Muriel Kramer stated that she “personally would consider the disciplinary records in my decision to support promotions or not to leadership positions in the Hopkinton Police Department”. As the Board knows, disciplinary records are already considered as part of this process as described in the Town’s Policy. Furthermore, Chair Muriel Kramer stated she planned to add a future agenda item to consider “implementing a review process as part of this promotional process”.

Now, it must be made extremely clear that the Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association takes the signed Collective Bargaining Agreement extremely seriously. If the Town wishes to revisit agreed upon terms, then the Association looks forward to doing so in the next Agreement, slated to begin July 1, 2025.

Our members continue to do a difficult, dangerous, and often thankless job, day in and day out. Our members continue to perform at a high level despite facing difficulties posed by constant short-staffing, low morale, and lack of support. Our members maintain a high level of education and training and truly are experts in the field of policing.

Our members deserve better than this. Our members’ families deserve better than this. On behalf of the Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association, we eagerly await a better explanation as to why our members and their families were forced to waste their time and be publicly embarrassed instead of courteously being notified privately prior to the Select Board Meeting.

Respectfully,

Cody Normandin, Vice President

Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association MassCOP Local 254

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17 COMMENTS

  1. I think that the voters that voted for this board are as digusted as well. I am officially embarrassed to say I live in Hopkinton (after 46 years). Shame on this board.

  2. I honestly was livid at how the police were embarrassed at this meeting! I have high respect for our police officers and she should never have done that! I feel she has something against the police in general anyways since she’s part of the freedom group that gets people out of jail! And then to have most of the rest of the board agree…. Disgusting!!! When’s the next vote???!!

  3. I’ve lived in Hopkinton since 1965, most all my life. I recently retired from the Town of Milford Police Department with over 33 years of service. I’ve spent my entire career working hand in hand with Patrolmen, Detectives and higher ranking supervisors from Hopkinton PD. I’ve always found them to hold the highest standards and professionalism. I’m disgusted with the treatment these officers were subject to during the select board meeting. There was no reason to have these two outstanding police officers be subject to such humiliation by 4 of our 5 Select Board. In closing, Mary Jo, I commend you for being the only board member to do the right thing.

  4. I’m glad I don’t live in Hopkinton. What a disgrace! These officers deserve their promotions and apologies from the select board.

  5. I feel like I am piling on as well. This was extremely poorly done by the Select Board. The chair is the most culpable, but the entire board owns responsibility. It might be past time to pick a new chair.

    I can’t speak to the character or quality of the specific candidates, but I have yet to meet a Hopkinton officer who was not earnest and helpful.

    There was simply no excuse to treat these two tenured professionals in such a manner. An apology from the Board is only beginning of what needs to be done.

    Leadership like this is why our town has lost so many senior employees lately.

  6. As a Hopkinton resident since 2011, I have witnessed the professional and compassionate policing consistently provided by the Hopkinton Police. They are one of the main reasons I have been grateful to be living here. The treatment of the two officers and the entire department was beyond shameful on September 5.
    In fact, the whole town has been abused by 4 of the 5 Select Board members. All four should resign.

  7. Oh, residents of the Town of Hopkinton: your BoS chair just did you (and your police department) dirty.

    The chair sets the agenda and runs the meeting (source: me. I was chair of Upton’s BoS from 2010-11). Since Chair Kramer *knew* she was going to defer action on the promotions, it would have been altogether fitting and proper for her to notify Chief Bennett that it was going to be removed from the agenda and that would have saved many folks’ time and spared a lot of embarrassment and humiliation.

    Any attempt by the chair to have you believe she could not to “get out ahead of this but was unsuccessful” is a *complete fabrication*; it’s her agenda until the board, in session, votes on it. Three BoS members showed *zero* fortitude by following her lead.

    This was grandstanding at its best, and was completely avoidable; voters should not stand for this type of behavior from a select-board member.

    The department is certainly working through issues, but this agenda item was clearly mishandled by 4/5ths of the board, and absolutely botched by the chair in particular. Only Mary Jo served the townspeople well on this topic on Sept 5.

    Detective DeBoer (who I’ve known since 2010) and Officer Santoro (who I have yet to meet) deserve better, as do the people they serve. You meet twice a month, BoS: fix it now.

    Full disclosure: resident, 1967-71, HPD dispatcher 1988-97, 2010-15 (now retired); Upton BoS, 2008-11, and Norman’s #1 fan.

  8. I would like to know specifically what steps Ms Kramer took to “… get ahead of this …” situation and why they were allegedly so abjectly rejected to result in this humiliating and embarrassing situation for all involved; I cannot imagine any circumstances that would allow the meeting to have arrived at this. I empathize with the officers and the citizens of Hopkinton over Ms. Kramers actions and the supporting members of the Board. This was wrong in every respect.

  9. Although a recent member of the Board of Selectmen, I am strictly speaking as a private citizen. What transpired on Tuesday was amateurish, embarrassing and demeaning. Good on Mary Jo for simply doing the right thing. The agenda is sent to the chair on Thursday for approval. The chair, and chair alone, sets the agenda that is then published and distributed with the info packet to the board on Friday. If Muriel didn’t want this to be on the agenda, she could have excluded it. Now that said, maybe something significant came up between Thursday night and Tuesday night requiring the item to be removed. That happens. What the right thing to do would have been to let Chief Bennett know that the item needs to be tabled so he could let the effected parties know in advance that it was delayed. Maybe something came up that needed to be addressed privately in executive session? Was there an executive session on Tuesday prior to the public meeting? Yes. We will have to wait for the minutes to be released to see if there was a posted agenda item to be discussed and what the discussion was, along with the results of a vote. If there was an exec session agenda item, surely Chief Bennett would have been involved and invited. I thought that when the cameras were rolling in the public meeting room that Chief Bennett was there and not in exec session. The BOS have three (3) direct reports that they are responsible for. The police chief, fire chief and town manager. It’s plainly explained in the town charter that the BOS are not to be part of the day to day operations of the departments. Simply put, this is a direct violation of the charter for the chair to unilaterally (as admitted to) make a decision to hold off on the promotions. When Mrs Ritterbusch asked if it would be on the next meeting’s agenda, Muriel said “No”. There’s a ton of questions here that need to be addressed. My concern is mostly to the fact that there was no professional courtesy given to the potential promoted officers. Det. DeBoer has been with us for 24 years and SRO Santoro has been with us for 7 years. All that had to be done was a heads up given so they could let their families, friends, co-workers and superiors know that the ceremony was not going to happen and have them not show up. I can’t imagine the anger and embarrassment they must have gone through. That said, what do her actions say about the confidence they have for the Chief? The present board lacks balance. That’s obvious. The board needs balance so that events like this don’t happen in the future.

  10. It is also noted in the Charter that:
    Section 1-5: Ethical Standards
    Elected and appointed officers and employees of the Town of Hopkinton are expected to demonstrate, by their example, in general conduct and in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, the highest ethical standards to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of its government. Elected and appointed officers and employees of the Town of Hopkinton are expected to recognize that they act always as agents for the public, that they hold their offices or positions for the benefit of the public, that the public interest is their primary concern, and that they are expected to faithfully discharge the duties of their offices regardless of personal considerations.

  11. I think the letter from the police union addresses the core issue: Why was this “delay” handled in such an apparently insensitive manner? Ms. Kramer, the public will be waiting for your response.

  12. After reviewing the available information in the media and reviewing the public disciplinary records recently updated by the POST commission (state oversight board on police training and certification), I wonder if the board was justified in putting off promotions until an expected report is provided. I find it telling that Kramer (who was a member of the BOS for many years prior to her most recent position as chair and a longtime hopkinton resident) has personal knowledge of disciplinary issues involving members of the department, such as excessive force or biased policing? The public records through POST reveal thousands of officers that have had disciplinary records submitted through current employers as required by law. These records fail to show any reports of any nature that were submitted by Hopkinton even though a former deputy chief currently has his certification suspended due to criminal indictment and Hopkinton has a recent history of public disciplinary issues within the department. It could raise the question of Hopkinton is in compliance with the POST laws and even submitted any disciplinary records to the state oversight board as required? Although putting off the promotions may not have been handled with the most tact, I believe the board of selectmen have a duty to the citizens of Hopkinton to ensure all police officers are not problem officers which is especially important when selecting leaders for promotion to oversee the rank and file. I think the selectmen may have gotten this one right for the long term benefit of the town. Especially considering the fact that hopkinton has no published police officer discipline records posted along with thousands of others, including many surrounding towns. Is Chief Bennett hiding something from the town and state oversight board or could it just be a coincidence? For these mentioned issues I applied the selectmen for taking a step back to gather further information.

    • I assume you mean “applaud the selectmen”? I believe the correct appellation is “Select Board” which is a bit more respectful to the women Board members. Regarding your comments, nobody is denying that the Board has the right to review and approve these promotions, provided they are following the agreed upon “promotional process”. If they are not, then that could become a legitimate union grievance, or even potentially a lawsuit for breach of contract. Another key issue is WHY this was handled in such an apparently inconsiderate fashion regarding these two particular police officers? Why embarrass them in a public forum in front of their families? Why couldn’t this have been handled in a more sensitive manner?

  13. Ms Kramer’s YouTube summary on HCAM seems to state even more than was mentioned during the meeting and certainly more than was agreed upon by the other members of the select board. It seems that Ms Kramer is overstepping her bounds

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