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Councilmen Say Their Wards Mass-Ticketed in Retaliation for Police Contract Vote

After voting against a new police contract, Councilmen Steve Stycos and Paul Archetto say their wards were targeted by a rash of tickets in retaliation.

An internal investigation is underway at the Cranston Police Department after allegations that police officers were ordered to aggressively issue tickets in wards represented by City Council members who voted against a new police contract last month.

The allegations came to light in nine pages of documents released by City Councilman Steve Stycos at the end of Monday night's City Council meeting, including two anonymous letters purporting to be from rank and file members of the department. They suggest the directive came from Capt. Stephen Antonucci, also the president of the Cranston police union, in apparent retaliation for votes against the contract.

Also see: Fung, if Allegations True, "I do not condone any type of intimidating behavior"

Stycos said he and Ward 3 Councilman Paul Archetto both voted against the contract at the Nov. 14 Finance Committee meeting and immediately afterwards, he said department records show the number of tickets issued in their wards skyrocketed.

Both Wards 1 and 3 are part of different policing districts that encompass multiple voting wards, yet, Styocs said, the issuance of tickets were concentrated in their wards alone. In Ward 2, which is in the same policing district as Ward 1, there was just one ticket on Nov. 15 and 16. But in his ward, there were 66. In Archetto's Ward 3, 62 tickets were issued in contrast to the 5 tickets issued in Ward 5, which shares policing district 2 with Ward 3.

"What appears to have happened is following the rejection of the police contract, somehow an order was given to issue tickets in Ward 1 and Ward 3 to intimidate I think not just the two of us, but every member of this council," Stycos said. "This is a serious matter and we need to find out what happened."

The anonymous letters claim Antonucci made a call to the third shift sergeant the night of the contract vote ordering him to "inform the shift to tag all vehicles parked overnight in the wards of those council members who voted against the [contract,]" one letter states.

City Solicitor Christopher Rawson told the council that the matter is under internal investigation within the police department.

Along with the letters, Stycos provided several pages of addresses that were issued parking tickets that he said prove that the tickets were concentrated in his and Archetto's ward.

"We need to know if the chief was involved, if he mayor's office was involved and we need corrective action," Stycos said, calling for everyone who was ticketed those nights following the Nov. 14 vote to have their tickets wiped out and anyone who has already paid to get their money refunded.

"We have an assumption that policing is fair, that policing is even handed and I think it's outrageous that there has been an apparent attempt at intimidating me directly," Stycos said. "What these tickets say to every member of the council is 'don't mess with the police department because they'll mess with you and that's not what we want from our police department.'"

Archetto said the allegations are very serious and read the police officer's oath into the record.

The contract in question was rejected by the Finance Committee in a 4-3 vote — a major blow to both the union and mayor's office, which now find themselves looking at another round of negotiations.

Council members who voted against the contract took issue with a provision that gave substantial raises to ranking members of the departments (sergeants, lieutenants and captains) that equate to an 11.5 percent pay hike over three years. The union argued that the raises were to bring ranking officers' salaries in line with neighboring cities and towns like Warwick and South Kingstown.

The city's own cost analysis said the contract would only cost the city an extra $454,000 over the life of the contract when factoring in savings through increases in employee contributions to health care and other post employment benefits (OPEB).

But Stycos, perhaps the most-vocal opponent of the contract before the latest allegations, has said he and his fellow council members voting against the contract — Councilwoman Sarah Lee and Councilmen John E. Lanni Jr. and Archetto — believe the contract will actually cost the city an extra $1 million per year by 2015, due in part to the creation of a new step system for ranking members — a first for police contracts in Rhode Island. Normally, only patrol officers see regular step increases during their years of service.

Related: Fung: "If Allegations True, "I do not condone any type of intimidating behavior"

Were you Ticketed? Here's the List
nicole fine December 17, 2013 at 07:45 AM
I would LOVE to see all the cars parked around Cranston East ticketed. Also, what about patrolling around all the schools that have 'no parking' signs? There are many areas that the police could/should step up their ticketing process.
Ronald Jacob December 17, 2013 at 08:25 AM
This isn't an issue about parked overnight vehicles, there is a more defined issue festering in the police department that many don't know about and hopefully will at some time. An internal investigation at this time is futile, it's time for the State Police to be called in to investigate several issues and not overnight parked vehicles being ticketed. I hope that Mayor Fung or the City Council will request the State Police to investigate the Police Department. That is the only way to get to the root of the REAL problem.
Concerned Cranston Resident December 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM
I'm sorry but this is bull! Grow up and put your big boy pants on! And an 'internal' investigation is bogus. This needs to be looked into by the State Police, along with any other 'issues'. Last time I checked, "South Kingstown" does not neighbor the City of Cranston. Get rid of the greed and be grateful you have a job, and the opportunity to work details, and other overtime. If you chose to advance in your career knowing the added responsibility and all, accept the fact that you will also have an increase in your pension. Step raises are 'political' and ludicrous and should not exist. And the only reason it was even proposed is because some of the department 'brass' are thinking of themselves. It's articles like this, and these practices that hurt the morale of the department. And then LEO wonder why citizens can be disrespectful towards them. I think the only salary area that needs to change is entry level to entice applicants, and longevity of service.
Jason Stanley December 17, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Well as being a former city employee that was forced into resigning my position very recently because the Cranston police couldn't mind their own business and wanted to get a little dirt so to speak on someone that the police had it out for I agree with the councilman. The police and the director if the Cranston senior center had accused me of stealing when I didn't and when they found out who did I never got an apology. The police wasted more time in investigating me for something I didn not steal than they did fighting crime on the streets if Cranston. Or it's even better when they have LOTS of pictures of an employee doing something wrong and only that one person is singled out but yet the other coworker that worked with this person and worked side by side didn't get any consaquenses what so ever. It's easy for residents if the city to have a view on something when they don't know what goes on on the inside, but I can promise my fellow residents when certain things get exposed very soon your not going to be happy that your tax dollars were wasted on making sure a leve 3 sex offender was taken care if very well by city employee directors of a certain building. Stay tuned.
Andie D'Amora December 17, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Why is everyone in this city so childish? The councilman was wrong to hold up the police contract because he doesn't like the Mayor's bid to be Governor. The men make peanuts compared to the suburbs, and took some hits for the cities in bad times. Now that the city is on the right track, it's time to catch up. Grow up Stycos. And the last guy to comment, Mr. Stanley, grow up. You got fired and now have bitter grapes. And learn how to spell.
Jason Stanley December 17, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Lol funny D'amora you must be a Cranston cop and if not your an idiot. Cause if you think just the cops gave up a lot try the firefighters, the laborers and the teamsters. All the city's unions gave up a lot. The police do just fine but if your a cop your just a greedy selfish pompous ass like the rest of them. FYI I wasn't fired and if your a tax payer of the great city of Cranston I am sure you wouldn't like it that your tax dollars are being wasted to make sure a level 3 sex offender is being well taken care of by the city and things are being over looked that if the residents knew about they would not be happy. Eat that pal and wait
Bob December 17, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Mr Fung wants to be head honcho Governor, This is a golden opportunity to see what type leader he is and would be.....The ball is your court Mayor....NOW !!!! not in 6 weeks or six months...now.....Get on it !!! because this will pale in comparison to what you'll have to deal with as Governor.
Becca December 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I agree with Ronald this is a STATE Police matter as there is so much more to this than the public knows. We the residents have the right to the truth here!
Adam Hartman December 18, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Rhode Island greaseball thuggery at it's best. A clear attempt to chill free speech. And there's the statistics to prove it.
nancy petrarca December 18, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Has everyone been living under a rock !!
Cranstonresident December 18, 2013 at 08:23 PM
@andie d'mora I find it hard to believe that 4 out of 7 councilmen hate mayor fund enough to hold up a contract to give him trouble. Someone or a group of officers obviously abused their power, and i think police men and women should be held to a higher standard when you have that power. Also, you said everyone is this city is childish, i guess giving out tickets as a fear or intimidation tactic because you didnt get your way is really the mature this to do. Fung better have the state police come in on this. The ball is in you court mayor show the people you are govenor material.
Cranston resident December 19, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Please investigate why Councilman Archetto was fired from Bishop Hendricken for "inappropriate behavior"???? Inappropriate behavior at an all boys school?? I'm sure we can figure it out..
2ferskippy January 12, 2014 at 09:34 PM
who cares about the tickets. it is the moral compass and concern for their fellow man, no matter what their status in society.it is so upsetting to see what is really at the top of their list on the job.(coffee/sex) this is the first response they really deserve credit for and to be remembered by. hurt those council members right in the wallet !! not.

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