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Mackenzie promoted to Deputy

September 16, 2015

Walpole Police Lieutenant Christopher Mackenzie was promoted to Deputy Chief by a vote of 4-0-1 at last night’s Selectmen meeting.

Mackenzie received the promotion with the strong support of Chief John Carmichael and the department’s other lieutenant, Fred Leland. Selectmen interviewed Mackenzie, along with Sergeant Joseph Zanghetti, and Detective Sergeant James O’Connell, for the position.

Selectmen chairman Cliff Snuffer stunned the political establishment by making the motion to promote Mackenzie to the post. Selectman Eric Kraus seconded it.

Selectman David Salvatore was the lone abstention, saying that while he had nothing against Mackenzie, he had lingering reservations about filling the position in the first place. He noted that the Selectmen’s meeting minutes from their August 4 workshop noted that they planned to have further discussion on the need for the Deputy position, but Selectmen never actually continued that discussion. Salvatore pointed out that all three of the applicants for the position said during their interviews that they think the department should focus on more officers on the front-lines, a point that he said seemed to contradict the logic of hiring another department administrator rather than an officer on the street.

Salvatore also pointed out that Selectmen are civilian police commissioners by law, and shouldn’t necessarily automatically accede to the police chief’s recommendation for hirings and promotions. He cited a recent scandal, involving the Cranston, R.I. Police Department, in which the city’s Mayor was among those blasted in an explosive State Police report for being too closely involved with police department decisions, as evidence of the need for strong civilian oversight that doesn’t give too much free reign to police administrators.

(see full statement from Selectman Salvatore below)

Mackenzie’s promotion opens up a Lieutenant position that either O’Connell or Zanghetti could potentially be appointed to fill.

As Deputy, Mackenzie will serve as the department’s chief media spokesperson, which could pose problems for The Walpole Times, which Mackenzie’s wife, former Selectwoman Nancy Mackenzie, has had a long-running vendetta against.

Full statement released to 180 from Selectman Salvatore below:

On August 4, 2015, the Board of Selectmen had a non-televised “workshop” meeting to discuss police department structure. At issue was whether to fill the position of Deputy Chief. The approved minutes of the meeting state that, “There was a consensus among the Board to continue the discussion on this matter.” There was no further discussion by the Board at any subsequent meetings. The next act was to schedule interviews. Those interviews took place on September 15, 2015.

I respect and considered Chief Carmichael’s support for filling the position of Deputy Chief. However, to end the Board’s discussion without any further discussion was a disservice to the Town of Walpole, the taxpayers of Walpole, the citizens of Walpole and the Walpole Police Department. The Board of Selectmen sits collectively as Police Commissioner. We are to be the civilian oversight of the Walpole Police Department. We owed a duty to inquire further. And therefore, I respectfully abstained from filling the position.

I struggled with this decision and did not sleep last night. I have a strong sense that our appointees should almost invariably have our unanimous support. And I do support the decision of the Board and the selection. I am sure that Deputy Chief Mackenzie will continue to serve Walpole with distinction and be an honor to his fine family.

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