Northampton police sergeants miffed at stance by patrol officers amid payroll investigation
NORTHAMPTON — Union leaders representing Northampton police sergeants said Tuesday that they were “disheartened” by the content and tone of a letter the police officers union sent to the mayor late last week questioning how the department is managed.
In its own letter to Mayor David J. Narkewicz delivered Tuesday afternoon, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 390-S said they can’t support the assertions made by patrol officers union, known as the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 390, in the wake of news that two employees are being investigated for alleged financial improprieties.
“While we support your union in the majority of its endeavors, we cannot support the contents of your letter considering the information currently available,” the sergeants wrote.
Union leaders said they will wait until the investigation is finished and come to their own conclusions about issues raised by patrol officers “based on the facts of the case and not based on speculation and innuendo.”
The patrol officers letter, signed by union president Joshua R. Wallace, questioned Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz’s leadership and accused him of taking steps to “squash” an investigation into Capt. Scott A. Savino and administrative assistant Maryann C. Keating.
The two were placed on paid leave last month while the office of Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni investigates possible wrongdoing related to payroll records. Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan turned the case over to his counterpart in Springfield to avoid any conflict of interest. .
The sergeants said they took “umbrage” with references to supervisors and shift supervisors contained in the patrol officers letter, particularly in sections where the patrol union accuses Sienkiewicz and other supervisors of downplaying the incidents that led to the investigation by saying Savino’s involvement was “minimal.”
“Within these two paragraphs, Union President Wallace freely refers to ‘supervisors’ and ‘shift supervisors’ without explaining his basis of knowledge in making these statements or identifying specific supervisors,” the sergeants wrote.
The sergeants said there is no conspiracy between Sienkiewicz and supervisors of the department. In their letter, they said that when they asked Wallace if any supervisors had spoken out in favor of minimizing the investigation, he told them he could not identify any.
“By issuing a blanket statement that used the word ‘supervisors’ in the plural form, IBPO 390 has now besmirched the reputation of every supervisor of this department by use of an inaccurate statement,” the sergeants wrote.
The sergeants also said that its members did not have any “direct view” of conduct related to an alleged inappropriate relationship between Savino and Keating, as the patrol union states.
Narkewicz had little comment on the letter from the sergeants Tuesday night.
“This is their attempt to try to clarify some of the issues raised by the patrol officers union,” he said. “It’s certainly part of the public record now, but I’m not sure what weight it has in the process.”
Narkewicz acknowledged that tension levels within the department may be high because of the anxiety surrounding the investigation, but he expressed confidence the unions will address their differences internally.
“These are hard-working folks who care about the work they do and they take their work seriously,” the mayor said.