Mass. town fires police chief after several bizarre incidents
The chief intimidated patrons at a bar where an anti-police song was playing, displayed inappropriate political bias on separate occasion
By K.C. Myers
Cape Cod Times
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — Police Chief Jeff Jaran is now the former chief after the town manager fired him following a closed-door meeting with selectmen that lasted more than three hours on Wednesday night.
"The result at this level was expected," said Andrew Gambaccini, Jaran's attorney.
Jaran will dispute the termination at an arbitration hearing where he expects "full vindication," the attorney added. The former chief would not comment.
The selectmen ratified the town manager's decision, they said after emerging from the closed-door session.
"It's very difficult, but there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence," said Selectman Erik Yingling.
"We hope this will allow the town to move forward," added Selectman Elaine Anderson.
The arbitration committee will be made up of three people, one selected by Provincetown officials, one selected by the chief and one that both parties choose in agreement, according to Jaran's contract. A majority vote is needed to reverse the disciplinary action.
Jaran has been the subject of much public scrutiny ever since the May 7 electionand following his angry reaction to a N.W.A song with anti-police lyrics played at The Squealing Pig pub.
Town Manager Sharon Lynn and the selectmen hired Jaran in 2008 from Bow, N.H., where he had been the police chief for four years.
Jaran has three years left on a five-year contract. He was paid about $127,000 in 2013, according to the contract.
Lynn suspended him on Sept. 12 after the police union issued a no-confidence vote in their chief. The union charged him with trying to get staff to vote for Selectman Austin Knight, as well as other inappropriate behavior.
Selectmen hired an independent investigator, Frank Rudewicz of Marcum LLP to look into the union's complaints as well as the incident at The Squealing Pig.
Rudewicz's report, released on Nov. 25, found that Jaran violated local and state laws when he held staff meetings in April, prior to the May 7 election, at which he discussed the need to support Knight.
The report also stated that the chief told Lt. James Golden to pick up campaign signs for Knight and bring them to the station. The chief had them in the station for employees who wanted to take them, Rudewicz said.
Golden, who felt uncomfortable doing this, changed into plainclothes and used his own car to carry out the directive, the report noted.
Rudewicz also found that Jaran did not behave violently at the Squealing Pig, but patrons were intimidated.
Afterward, he "unnecessarily" directed officers to collect names of the people in the bar that night, the report found.
The police union president, Detective Meredith Lobur, on Monday criticized Rudewicz's report, saying that staff did feel "uncomfortable and pressured" by at least one of these conversations about Knight.
Rudewicz report had stated that "paranoia and mistrust" has permeated the town.
The issues that occurred over seven months ago could have been addressed much earlier individually, he reported.
But because of the mistrust, the incidents "festered, allowing rumor and innuendo to mix with facts that negatively impacted the Provincetown community," Rudewicz wrote.
Lobur, in her letter of response, wrote it wasn't "paranoia" that caused Jaran's angry reaction to a "20-plus-year-old rap song."
Nor did it commit ethical violations in campaigning, she wrote.
The issues investigated by Rudewicz "fall squarely on the chief of police," Lobur wrote.
Copyright 2013 the Cape Cod Times
McClatchy-Tribune News Service