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To The Editor,
It’s been shocking and saddening to me this week to see how angry and vindictive people have become as a result of the Select Board meeting this past Tuesday evening.
Yes, I found Mr. Friedmann’s remark about the police regrettable, as did he. I was certain, however, that that unfortunate statement did not come from a place of malice or disrespect. Mr. Friedmann has served in a volunteer capacity in our town for years. He has supported increased spending for our police and fire departments. And he has apologized – deeply and sincerely.
I believe the Reading community admires and respects the Reading Police Department. I do. The police department and the fire department have helped my family in some difficult moments. I have been very thankful and grateful for their caring and compassionate professionalism.
The attempt by some people in town to claim the right to be the truest supporters and defenders of the police and to continue to vilify Mr. Friedmann and Ms. Alvarado speaks to a deeper agenda than simply responding to Tuesday night’s meeting.
There is also an effort underway to provide an inaccurate portrayal of the timeline for hiring a new police chief.
The position opening was first announced officially in July 2019, according to a memo to the Select Board from Town Manager Bob LeLacheur. The assessment center at which candidates were tested and interviewed took place in November 2019. Mr.LeLacheur did not receive all the comments from the observers of this center until December 23. Subsequently, the two finalists were interviewed in January 2020.
A six to nine-month timeline to select a person for a role of this importance to our community is normal. There is certainly room to discuss the process, e.g., was there an opportunity given along the way for members of the public to talk about what they would like to see in a new police chief. But the overall timeline is reasonable.
I am thankful for the members of the Select Board for the countless hours they put into reading pages of material and attending meetings every week, not only of the Select Board but of other committees and commissions in town as well.
The negative energy that is being put into a recall effort and the posting of critical remarks and letters on social media and online news publications is simply that – negative.
Let’s put our best selves forward in a positive and kind manner to ratify a new police chief this coming Wednesday.
Mary Ellen O’Neill