LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua yesterday accused the Lawrence Police Superior Officer's Association of trying to block his efforts to reinstate laid-off police officers.
In a one-page press release issued by the mayor's office, Lantigua announced that the LPSOA had filed a lawsuit against him and the city contending that "the union believes the city should first promote superior officers rather than returning any laid off Officers and increasing our Police force to large numbers."
The press release also noted the lawsuit was the second one filed this year. Yesterday's action, filed with the state Department of Labor Relations, was "in direct response to Mayor William Lantigua's reinstatement of five Patrol Officers due to the recent nightly disturbances and after a careful review of future financial abilities; future grants and recent retirements," according to the statement.
The lawsuit the mayor was referring to is actually a complaint the union filed yesterday with the state Civil Service Commission — the second one filed this year over demotions of superior officers.
In the press release, Lantigua said the city would have to spend future public safety money "to defend itself from these disturbing charges" filed by the LPSOA.
"I can't fathom why the Superiors Officers would want to hinder me from bringing back their brother and sister Police Officers to help protect the City of Lawrence in a time of need," Lantigua said.
"Since the lay-offs first occurred I have vowed that when funding is available I will take the necessary steps to increase our force and especially our Patrol Division. To date, and with the recent call back of five officers, we have been able to bring back fourteen officers from the lay-off list. I hope the union can support these efforts instead of engaging in these labor tactics which will hurt the taxpayers of Lawrence in the end," the mayor said.
Sgt. Scott McNamara, president of the 25-member LPSOA, took umbrage to the press release. He said the union will prepare a public response today to the mayor's allegations.
"My first reaction is to say that I am not at all surprised by the mayor's inflammatory remarks. But unfortunately, it's just his latest effort to disparage the men and women who serve the citizens of Lawrence so admirably," McNamara said in an interview last night.
"I wish the mayor had the courage to have answered his door yesterday at City Hall when I and another member of my board attempted to discuss the matter with him as professionals. Sadly, this will now play out in a public arena, bringing more unneeded attention to the city of Lawrence," McNamara said.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.