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.
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.
Cody Normandin, Vice President
Hopkinton Police Arbitration Association MassCOP Local 254