Letter: Police Chief Search Timeline Not Unusual or Recall-Worthy

The Reading Post accepts Letters to the Editor. All letters must be signed. The Reading Post reserves the right to edit or not publish any letters received. Letters do not represent the views or opinions of the Post. editor@thereadingpost.com

To the Editor:

I’m writing in regard to the upcoming recall election that Select Board Member Vanessa Alvarado is facing. The recall petition indicates a belief that Ms. Alvarado caused delays in Reading’s search process for a police chief. It seems worth pointing out that we started the process in earnest in August of 2019, and it culminated with the Select Board’s unanimous vote to approve Chief David Clark in mid-February. That equates to a search process covering no more than seven months. The former chief’s time on administrative leave early last year may have made it feel longer, but he did not resign until June 28, and the job was posted in July, so the actual search took seven months. (For a nicely detailed explanation of the timeline, I encourage readers to visit www.againsttherecall.com.)

Seven months seems an entirely reasonable length of time for a town to spend filling such an important role in town government. Some quick internet searches reveal comparable lengths of time spent on police chief searches in other Massachusetts towns. For example, Medfield recently hired a new chief after a process lasting slightly over seven months. Weymouth spent eight months of last year, from February to October, on their search. And we should be glad we aren’t Milford, which formed a search committee in February 2019 and didn’t finish up the process until this past March, over a year later!

I appreciate knowing that our town, and our Select Board, did their due diligence throughout our search, in order to make sure we chose the best possible candidate. I am very encouraged by the town’s widespread support for Chief Clark and the Board’s unanimous vote. I feel confident that the process worked as it should have, in a timely manner, given the importance of the position. I don’t see a “delayed” process here, which would seem to negate the reason for the recall as stated in the petition. For this and many other reasons, I will be voting against the recall and I encourage others to join me.

Rebecca Bailey
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 1
Forest Glen Road

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