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By Jack Minch


SHIRLEY — The recommendations to reorganize the Police Department adopted recently by the Board of Selectmen are a bit of deja vu.

The recommendations came from a report written by former selectman Enrico “Rico” Cappucci. The department will look more like it did in the 1980s, when Cappucci was chief — along with a more aggressive community-outreach program.

The report recommended streamlining the department’s supervisory staff and urged the quick promotion of Lt. J. Gregory Massak to full-time chief.

The board appointed Cappucci to develop the report before he was defeated by Selectman David Swain in the May 11 election.

Selectmen adopted all five of the recommendations that came out of Cappucci’s report.

“They at least have a game plan, so when they have money they can implement the game plan,” Massak said.

Bryan Dumont, chairman of the Government Study Committee that is reviewing town operations, said he has not read the report yet but is pleased with what he heard during Cappucci’s presentation last week.

Dumont is a retired investigator for the Department of Defense and a former police officer. Cappucci’s recommendations follow standard police practices, Dumont said.

Former Chief Paul Thibodeau retired April 3, 2009, and Massak was named interim chief June 1 of that year.

The board promoted Massak to permanent chief last week, but will hold a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony this week, Chairman Kendra Dumont said.

Cappucci also recommended the department convene a sergeants exam to fill a supervisory position but eliminate the lieutenant’s position within the department.

The department has two sergeants, but the report recommends it maintain a staff of three sergeants so there is one supervisor per shift.

The report also recommends the department’s training programs and community-service programs be placed under the jurisdiction of a supervisor other than Massak to free him for normal administrative duties.

Massak was the last officer Cappucci hired before leaving the department to take over the Duxbury Police Department in 1986. Four of the officers who worked for Cappucci went on to become police chiefs, including Thibodeau and Massak.

Cappucci’s report strongly urged the board to name a chief quickly.

The delay in naming a full-time replacement was undermining Massak’s authority, as well as ability to assign responsibilities and duties, Cappucci concluded.

“The longer you go with an acting chief, there is a very subtle message he is not getting the job and he is starting to lose authority,” Cappucci said.

It is a typical problem for police departments that are managed by interim chiefs, Cappucci said in his report. An interim chief performs duties as a patrol officer, street supervisor and chief, according to Cappucci.

“This … does not allow the chief to address either long- term or short-term goals, goals that may indeed have a major impact on the department’s ability to serve the town,” his report states.

Cappucci and Lunenburg Town Administrator Kerry Speidel will negotiate the contract, Massak said.

In his report, Cappucci estimated an $80,000 contract, which is less than the $94,000 salary Thibodeau earned.

“I’m not working for the world,” Massak said. “I’m not going to make $110,000 like the guy in Pepperell or $95,000 like the guy in Boxboro.”

Thibodeau created the lieutenant’s position during his tenure as chief, but the department is smaller now and does not warrant the rank, Cappucci wrote.

Eliminating the lieutenant’s position will free up money in the budget to promote a third sergeant and give Massak greater supervision of the department, he said.

The department normally has two officers on patrol but there are also officers working special details and in court who fall under the street supervisor, he said.

The report addresses the danger of the town’s and department’s liability risks if training lapses in the department.

The department dipped into its training budget last year to cover underfunded expenses, such as investigation and court time or prisoner watches, Massak said.

The Police Department plans to establish a Neighborhood Council and Neighborhood Crime Watch Program, according to Cappucci’s report.

The programs will help police gather information from the community to solve and prevent crimes, Cappucci wrote.

“Because community policing cannot be implemented through an alteration of an existing policy in and of itself, philosophical changes must occur on every level of the Shirley Police Department,” the report states. “Community policing skills will need to be integrated into the training program and not taught as a separate entity.”

Dumont said he and other representatives of his committee plan to talk with each town board, committee and department, including the Police Department.

The committee will compare Shirley’s operations to those of other communities with similar characteristics to determine if efficiencies can be found.

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