LAWRENCE — The Lawrence Police Superior Officers Association has called on Mayor William Lantigua to restore the good relations that once existed with the police department.
Last week, Lantigua's office issued a press release accusing the 25-member LPSOA of blocking the mayor's efforts to reinstate laid-off police officers.
The release stated the union had filed a lawsuit against him and the city, suggesting that superior officers should first be promoted before returning any laid-off officers.
The superior officers' executive board members issued their own statement, denying the mayor's allegations, which they said misrepresented the union's effort to challenge demotions.
"Consequently, the LPSOA has filed two separate appeals at the Civil Service Commission in order to vigorously defend our members' rights under the law, but at no time have we turned our backs on our fellow police officers," the union said.
"It is our sincere hope that every police officer lost to a layoff in the City of Lawrence will be quickly returned to service," the group added.
LPSOA leaders said they expected the city's state delegation would soon announce that they have obtained additional funding for law enforcement in Lawrence.
They also said they anticipated police Chief John Romero would push to restore many of the specialized crime units.
"In doing so, our Chief has stated, that not only would he need to recall each of the police officers lost to layoffs but also that he would need to restore each of the previously demoted superior officers in order to backfill for recent retirements and provide adequate supervision and accountability to those newly formed units," the LPSOA said. "It is our fervent desire, that Mayor Lantigua will seize this unique opportunity, and in doing so, not only rebuild his police department but also restore a mutual trust and respect that once existed between his administration and our association," the union leaders said.
The union said the mayor had been disingenuous in casting the senior officers as "villains," noting that he "fails to inform the public that only a year ago, in the face of a 'fiscal crisis', he refused a concession package from the LPSOA that would have allowed the command structure of the police department to remain intact."
"As a result, twelve men and women who had earned their positions based on service and merit were left with their careers in collective shambles when they were unceremoniously demoted. Interestingly, the 'fiscal crisis' stopped at Melix Bonilla's door. The former sergeant and campaign manager to Mayor Lantigua, was elevated three ranks to the position of Deputy Police Chief, and collected more than a $40,000 raise along the way," the LPSOA said.
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